The opening of Austin’s new downtown public library has again been delayed.
The new Central Library has been under construction since 2013, and was originally supposed to open in late 2016. An initial delay pushed that back to May 2017. But city staff are now saying that while the library could open this fall, there’s not a set date.
Construction costs have also run over the original estimates. Austin voters approved a $90 million bond to construct the library in 2009, but council members have approved an additional $35 million since then. Those higher costs came because the project design changed since the original $90 million bond passed, city officials say.
The new building at 710 West Cesar Chavez Street spans 200,000 square feet, and will include space for more than books – an event center, restaurant, and cooking demonstration space are among the features. It will replace the current Faulk Central Library on Guadalupe Street once it opens.
Councilmembers expressed frustration in a workshop last week about the delays and cost increases.
“It’s Groundhog Day,” said District 1 Councilmember Ora Houston. “I’ve only been on the council two years and some months, and that’s the response I get every time – that it’s soon.”
Once construction is completed, it will take another six months to fill the library with books and furniture, as well as train staff. Construction is close to complete, City staff say, which means the earliest open date would be sometime in October of this year.