The best thing that can be said for Citizen’s Bank in recent years is it has provided great parking for Town Square events.
An empty building with a historical past can be far more useful and the city is searching for a proper use. During a planning session in Clear Lake, a number of possibilities were discussed with one beginning to gain traction with the council.
City staff introduced the possibility of making the bank building the new home for city utility billing. Other suggestions included a restaurant incubator and a white box concept. The white box concept means the city would have prepared the building for occupancy.
“I have been looking at the food hall concept and it is not going to work there,” City Councilman Chris Presley said. “We could do the restaurant incubator on a smaller scale.”
City Manager Rick Davis said the current city facilities were built for a city of 50,000, which population has far exceeded. Moving billing to Texas Avenue would have the benefit of moving more traffic in the area. It would also provide a larger lunch crowd from the employees that would be working at the new utilities office.
The city said it would be able to provide a cost for the project in two weeks during a Municipal Development District meeting. Preliminary estimates indicate renovation of the bank building would cost between $1.2 million to $2.4 million. Assistant City Manager Nick Woolery said the MDD would provide $1.2 million with additional funding coming from water and sewer.
The city provided updates on other projects in addition to providing the utility building pitch.
The design is going well for the public safety building and the city is looking at what other municipalities have done. Work on the Animal Control Shelter is further along. It will have to go through a rezoning process, which does not figure to be an issue. Davis is optimistic there will be a groundbreaking on the facility before the end of spring.
In terms of drainage, the city is working on the flooding issues on Texas Avenue. The city is using an in-house design and seeking additional funding for the project from Harris County.
One item discussed that will benefit the west side of Baytown is a mill and overlay project that will begin at Food Town on Decker Drive and work down Market Street into the Historic West End.
There was also discussion about turning Sterling and Defee Streets into two-way streets. The thought process is the current one-way setup is no longer an efficient use of the roadway. To make the transition, work would also be needed on North Main Street at the intersection.