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Holly project cost set at $2.2 million Council gets contract for sale of Depot

A project to turn a historic downtown building into a showcase for the Buddy Holly collection, the Fine Arts Center and a West Texas music museum will cost more than $2.2 million.

Nearly half of that amount, $1 million, is for renovations to the Fort Worth and Denver Depot building at 1801 Ave. G, according to a memo obtained by The Avalanche-Journal.

Renovations include removing asbestos, demolishing the kitchen add-on and building a gallery in that space, refinishing wood and terrazzo floors, installing security bars on windows, upgrading the air-conditioning system, repairing the roof and, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, installing ramps and lifts.

The total amount also includes $600,000 to buy the historic structure, $250,000 to prepare an exhibit area for the 156 pieces of Holly memorabilia and nearly $200,000 for furnishings.

Money for the project could come from hotel/motel tax revenues, which would tie up dollars now being used to pay debt service on the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, City Manager Bob Cass said in the memo to the City Council.

That financial route also could mean diverting about $25,000 annually from operating costs into debt service, which would increase the operating deficit to about $45,000 per year, he said in the memo. Cass was out of town and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Councilman Max Ince has said he had reservations about spending so much money and that the council was split on the issue.

On Tuesday, council members were handed copies of a $600,000 contract of purchase for the historic building, just two days before they are to vote on the matter.

But the building’s owner, Ronnie Thompson, hasn’t yet signed the contract. Thompson said Tuesday that he hadn’t seen a final copy and didn’t want to discuss the purchase price until the deal was sealed.

He said the facility, formerly the Depot Restaurant and Bar, was worth much more than had been discussed in negotiations with the city but that ”everybody’s trying to work the deal through.”

That wasn’t the case six months ago when the council, poised to buy the historic structure, voted to take no action after the city staff’s negotiations suddenly turned sour with Thompson. Some said the last-minute deal-breaker was over money.

The council, however, isn’t afraid to vote on the matter before Thompson signs the contract, Councilman Alex ”Ty” Cooke said Tuesday. Councilman Randy Neugebauer agreed.

”I don’t think it matters,” Neugebauer said. ”Who signs it first isn’t material.”

Some council members have said the Fine Arts Center, now in a rundown building on Avenue P, should be in a different building than the Holly collection and museum.

But Cass said in the memo that if the council approves the purchase, the building should house the arts center as well.

”Acquiring the Depot facility solely as a site for a West Texas Music Hall of Fame and the Buddy Holly collection would add rather substantially to our operating costs,” the memo said.

By ANGELA K. BROWN
Avalanche-Journal

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