In a 5-2 vote Monday, the New Braunfels City Council approved the $2.65 million purchase of an abandoned Albertsons grocery store.
The city plans to turn the 51,000-square-foot facility into a new city hall.
“We've known for many years that we needed to enlarge our city hall space,” said New Braunfels Mayor Gale Pospisil. “We don’t have enough space now. We have offices in hallways and we have to rent separate buildings. So we saw the possibility of converting (the Albertsons) into city hall."
District 2 Councilwoman Aja Edwards Patino was one of two dissenting votes and said the city paid too much for the building.
Some residents said it was a smart move to put a building that has become a bit of an eyesore to good use.
“That saves them money from having to rebuild, for one, and for two, if it’s going to be put to good use then use it,” said Dawane Normandeau.
“I think it’s a great decision because it’s a new location,” said Danny Homan. “I think the parking will be easier. It’s been an empty building so it kind of frees up the old city hall."
Pospisil said officials have discussed several possibilities for the current city hall building, including a new parking lot, retail space, or a hotel.
Residents said they’re wary of a big hotel being established downtown because it could take away from the area’s historic aesthetic.
“I think it’s going to be weird,” said Normandeau. “I mean, it might be good for tourist season and stuff, but I don’t know.”
Homan said if done right, a hotel would be a nice addition to downtown New Braunfels.
“I think it should be more of a historic hotel to fit in with the downtown historical stuff -- like a bed and breakfast, not a big chain,” Homan said.