I'm not sure what surprises me more - that there's a plan to turn the Astrodome into a make-believe village of things that mostly don't exist in Houston (the reason being in some cases that we've bulldozed them to build something more modern), or that the Astrodome Redevelopment Corp got nearly a half-billion dollars in funding to make it happen.
An investment company has obtained financing for a $450 million project that would transform the Reliant Astrodome into a 1,200-room convention hotel with a winding indoor waterway, county officials said Wednesday.
The county, which owns the 40-year-old landmark that once was called the Eighth Wonder of the World, has yet to greenlight the project. But by obtaining financing and providing renderings and economic studies , the investment company convinced the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. that its plan is viable.
"If they can get it financed, that goes a long way toward saying that it can work," said Willie Loston, director of the Sports and Convention Corp., which oversees Reliant Park.
The developer's proposal calls for nine acres of the Astrodome's interior to be reserved for trees, walkways, mill wheels and the waterway, which would be plied by tourist boats similar to the ones on San Antonio's River Walk.
Astrodome Redevelopment Corp., the investment company, said the project's theme would be the Best of Texas, and it would feature buildings that evoked the state's past. A building designed to look like a historic Texas courthouse would be at the interior's center.
"It literally would be a village under glass," Loston said.