HOUSTON, Texas – Harris County announced plans on Tuesday to move forward with a plan to renovate Houston’s “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Astrodome.
The project will begin with a planned 1,400 space indoor parking facility.
County Commissioners voted on Tuesday morning to spend $10.5 million to raise the floor of the Astrodome and build a two-level, 1,400-space parking facility underneath. The parking facility is the first step in a plan to renovate the historic domed facility that is expected to cost $105 million in total, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle’s Steve Gonzales.
The Astrodome made history when it opened in 1965 as the largest domed structure in the world. It was nicknamed the “8th Wonder of the World” and was the home of the Houston Astros and Oilers teams. The building is owned by the taxpayers of Harris County.
County officials stated they believe the parking facility is the first step to making the facility more functional as a conference center and festival location. It is also expected to draw other commercial uses such as restaurants and shops. The Astrodome contains more than 550,000 square feet of useable space surrounding the giant floor.
The plan calls for $35 million of the $105 million project to come from Harris County taxpayers. Another third of the funds are expected to be generated from parking fees. The balance would be made from hotel taxes. The County’s contribution is approximately the same cost to the taxpayers as estimated demolition expenses. The project saves the ‘Dome from future decay and eventual demolition.
When completed, the Astrodome will have roughly 240,000 square feet of space to be used as an indoor park or for events, KHOU CBS11 reported. The surrounding 550,000 square feet would be used as retail or hospitality space.
The first phase is expected to take about a year to complete after work on the project begins.
Currently the Astrodome costs the county taxpayers almost $170,000 per year to maintain. Taxpayers get little from that expenditure at this time. The renovation is expected to turn the facility into a revenue-generating property and add to the value of the County-owned NRG Stadium and Convention Center.