Municipal plant coming alive

Published 5:01 am Monday, June 24, 2013

Vision 2020 Utilities Building committee members are happy with what they’ve been hearing at recent meetings and from outside sources helping with projects.

“The people who are on the steering committee and people who are part of this larger group together, it is just fun to see the enthusiasm,” said Bonnie Rietz, committee chair.

Committee members have been in conversations with Dubuque, Iowa, restoration company, along with Minnesota’s State Historical Preservation Office about receiving grant money if the building is deemed a historical site.

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Advocates are still pushing for apartments on the upper floors of the Austin Municipal Plant building with art centers and museums on lower floors.

The site could potentially qualify for historical and new housing market tax credits that would slash a total of 40 percent off the project’s $25 million to $30 million cost. Committee members hope to find out more about that status in coming months.

Yet the Utilities Building committee would still look for significant funding from other grants, organizations and possibly from the city, according to Rietz. The committee hasn’t yet asked for specific amounts as it wants more assurance on what the building will ultimately become.

“We have not zeroed in on a specific institution and amount yet until we know about the historical tax credits,” Rietz said.

But supporters of the Municipal Plant’s future are keeping the building in the public spotlight. The Austin Artworks Festival is just around the corner, Aug. 25 and 25.

“Everyone coming has a tie to Austin, which is just incredible,” Rietz said.

With that event, organizers again hope to garner more support for the big, old, brick building’s future.