Sharing Austin’s enthusiasm; Spam Museum breaks ground at downtown site Tuesday

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dignitaries break ground on the new Spam Museum Tuesday morning along Main Street.  - Photos Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Dignitaries break ground on the new Spam Museum Tuesday morning along Main Street. – Photos Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The Spam Museum is ready for construction.

Hormel Foods Corp. officials broke ground on the new Spam Museum Tuesday, which will go up between Second and Fourth Avenues on the east side of North Main Street.

“We’re really excited to be here today to break ground on our new Spam Museum,” Hormel CEO and President Jeff Ettinger said.

Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger speaks about the Spam Museum’s move downtown during a groundbreaking Tuesday morning.

Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger speaks about the Spam Museum’s move downtown during a groundbreaking Tuesday morning.

The city of Austin is set to reopen Third Avenue Northeast between Main Street and First Street Northeast as well.

Plans call for a 14,000-square-foot building spread out over one floor. In addition, the museum will have blue-accented walls on the outside of the building, which Hormel and city officials say will help bring a unique aspect to the downtown area.

“We really share the enthusiasm for enhancing downtown as a destination for both for our city residents and for our city visitors,” Ettinger said.

Architects and workers expect to finish the exterior this fall, and wrap up construction on the museum’s interior next spring. After a soft opening, the Spam Museum will hold a grand opening as part of Hormel’s 125th anniversary celebration in late July 2016.

The Spam Museum’s move to downtown is the result of several years of discussions. Community advocates and Vision 2020 volunteers had pushed for the Spam Museum to move into the Austin Utilities downtown power plant in 2012 as part of Vision 2020’s Utilities Building Committee plans.

Vision 2020’s Destination Downtown committee approached Hormel officials in fall 2013 about using the fire site formerly owned by the Austin Port Authority as a new location for the Spam Museum. Since then, Hormel has worked with several organizations including the city of Austin to move existing businesses out of the Ciola’s building and into other spaces.

Now the museum is going downtown, city officials hope the increased tourism, along with several other major projects through Vision 2020, will continue Austin’s current growth.

SPAM Museum Groundbreaking Exterior Rendering. -- Photo provided by RSP Architects

SPAM Museum Groundbreaking Exterior Rendering. — Photo provided by RSP Architects

“It seems like Austin is just really on the move right now,” Mayor Tom Stiehm said.

The original Spam Museum opened in 1991 inside the Oak Park Mall. Hormel officials created a new location for the Spam Museum in 2001 at 1101 N. Main St., connected to Hormel’s corporate office south building.

Construction schedule

•Contruction starts: Week of April 27

•Structural steel placement: July 2015

•Building enclosed: September 2015

•Soft opening: Spring 2016

•Grand opening: July 2016