There have long been efforts to transform the former – and now vacant – Seaholm intake building, but so far they haven’t gained traction. Now the Austin Parks Foundation and The Trail Foundation are hoping to breathe life back into the project, with a payment toward a study of the building and potential next steps.
The two foundations announced that they are giving $450,000 to Studio Gang, an architectural firm that will examine the building and three acres nearby.
Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department selected a proposed design in late 2015 from Stratus Properties to redo the intake building. But Preservation Austin then pointed out that PARD’s request for proposals and Stratus’s design did not take into account the fact that the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. That designation means any adaptations for new uses must involve “minimal changes to character defining features and avoid removal or destruction of important features and spaces.”
“I want to be clear the plan for this space will preserve and respect the historic significance of this underutilized structure and real genuine public asset, and it will become a space that all Austinites can use and enjoy,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler was quoted as saying in the Austin American-Statesman about the new effort.
The intake building was once the pump house for the Seaholm Power Plant, and was built in the 1950s in the same Art Deco style that characterizes the former plant itself. Seaholm, now retired and redeveloped into a mixed use property, operated as a power plant until 1989.
“To be able to transform this, what has basically been a languishing public asset, to be able to reimagine and reinvent itself for the future is a wonderful opportunity,” Brian Ott, interim executive director of the Trail Foundation, told the Statesman.
The city is planning on getting public input online and in meetings about the building. Find more details here.