It’s on the back burner for now.
A $105 million county-approved plan to renovate and build parking at Houston’s most famous relic has been put on pause since the plan’s most prominent advocate, Republican Ed Emmett, lost his seat last fall to Democrat Lina Hidalgo.
Hidalgo, who took the reins as Harris County’s chief executive in January, said making progress on issues such as bail reform and flood control are more pressing than breathing new life into the Astrodome.
Work on the Astrodome has ground to a halt, and it’s not clear when — or if — the renovation plan spearheaded by Emmett will be picked back up again.
“There are no other updates or changes at this time, but the Astrodome is forever part of our history,” Hidalgo said in a written statement. “Right now, we are focused on transformational actions that will improve the daily lives of our residents.”
Hidalgo stressed that the county has boosted its flood control capacity, enhanced its environmental monitoring capability and fixed a broken bail-bond system.
“Until we can make sure that the Astrodome plan makes fiscal sense and makes sense for our community, no major steps will be taken with regard to the project,” she added.
Workers did complete some initial stages of Emmett’s plan, such as finishing the first phase of a program to strip asbestos from some parts of the stadium.
County officials finished drawings and specifications for the first phase of the restoration, but they shelved a meeting to present it to the state historical commission for approval.
The cost of that early work was just under $8 million. Most of that money — more than $6 million — went toward design and construction document fees. The asbestos program cost close to $2 million.
“In the future, we’ll come back and look at all of this,” said county engineer John Blount. “I understand people say, ‘Well, what about the Astrodome?’ No one’s forgotten about the Astrodome.”
The last update we had was before the election, so that’s about where we are now. It was clear from the way Judge Hidalgo campaigned that the Astrodome was not high on her list of priorities, so none of this is a surprise. I do think Commissioners Court will return to this in the next couple of years, but it’ll be on Judge Hidalgo’s timeline. If you’d prefer something else, I recommend attending a Commissioners Court meeting and airing your views there. The Press has more.