Developer to restore historic Wedgwood Building in Castle Hills

5 people killed in fire in building nearly 4 years ago

CASTLE HILLS, Texas – The Wedgwood Building has been sitting vacant for nearly four years since a fire killed five people and displaced several others, but the historic building may soon get a fresh start.

The 11-story building in Castle Hills was not required to have a sprinkler system. It was grandfathered in since it was built in 1965.

A new developer purchased the building on Blanco Road near Loop 410 and plans to restore it to housing for those 55 years and older.

After putting aside fears that the developer does not have plans to make it into subsidized housing, the Castle Hills City Council and some in the community are behind the redevelopment plans.

"As long as it passes the safety codes, I'm behind it," said Katie Holmes, who lives behind the building. "It's a beautiful old building, but it has to have the codes so it's safe for everyone who will be there."

During a May presentation before City Council, an attorney spokesperson for the new owner told the city they were working with the fire department to meet the fire safety guidelines.

The developer is working on getting historic tax credits to help pay for the renovations. They will have a plan to show city leaders in about four to six weeks. Once construction gets underway, the building would be functional in about two to three years.

Units would be rented at competitive market rate value. The building could be worth $20 million once it's complete.

In May, Castle Hills' leaders voted on a resolution to support the redevelopment of the building. The letter of support was used by the developer to present to the banks for credits and loans. The future plans may also include retail.

Castle Hills leaders said the city has lost significant revenue by having the building sit empty for so many years.

About the Author: