AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – After a robust and lengthy conversation regarding the project during Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, the Amarillo City Council met once again for a special meeting Friday afternoon, officially approving a project which will add a metal pavilion to the Santa Fe Depot. 

The council passed a $2.7 million measure, adding the pavilion to the Santa Fe Depot. This metal pavilion, located between Fourth Street and Fifth Street on the face of Grant Street, will be 200 X 300 X 25’ tall, and will initially cost around $2,105,810. However, the addition of concrete and lights to the facility is expected to increase the overall cost by around $600,000. 

This comes after Amarillo City Councilmember Cole Stanley proposed during Tuesday’s regular meeting that the structure be higher than what was initially proposed. He also encouraged that a concrete slab be installed for the ground of the site, giving the pavilion the chance to be used for more events, including various athletic events. 

Along with the additional height for the facility, Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller said that the city is choosing to have an eight-feet entry height for the facility, align with multiple places for trucks to be able to enter the pavilion for various events. 

“It’s going to manage the wind and elements pretty well,” Miller said prior to the vote on Friday. “Going up to 25 feet, or 20 feet, was going to let a lot of wind through there that was going to be problematic for WRCA and, I think, for any sports or any other kind of user. This will do a really good job at managing wind.” 

However with the addition of those side panels that entry warrants, Jerry Danforth, the director of facilities and capital projects for the city of Amarillo, said this increases the scope of the project, adding manpower to have the project done by its deadline. Danforth projects that the team will now have to have an addition of six to 10 people working on the project. 

“We’ve moved aggressively on the timeline. The scope of work does increase, because we’ll have side panels now where we didn’t have before,” Danforth said. “But in working with our contractor, and part of that elevated number, was they had to hire additional crews to meet the timeline.” 

How is the project going to be funded? 

Laura Storrs, the assistant city manager and the chief financial officer for the city of Amarillo, said that the city will fund this project through an excess collection of hotel occupancy taxes from the last year and the current year, a decision that the Amarillo City Council made during Friday’s meeting. 

Miller said during the meeting that this funding approach was something that the council indicated that they would support, including council member Stanley. 

Storrs stressed that the money is coming from individuals staying in local hotels, including tourists that come to Amarillo for various events throughout the year. Storrs said the addition of this facility will increase the potential for hotel occupancy taxes, as more people come to Amarillo for various events, replenishing the amount of hotel occupancy taxes used for this project. 

“This (project) would (use) a good portion of the (hotel occupancy tax) reserves that we have at this time,” she said. “But again, those reserves are there to support efforts to promote tourism of our community. A project like this is a wonderful one to bring in all sorts of events. It supports one of our big local events, the WRCA group, but then it also allows for these athletic events to come in.” 

Storrs said that she believes that this measure was a financially smart decision for the city. 

“It is supporting a project that is going to bring dollars into our local economy,” Storrs said. “That’s always a smart financial decision on the city’s part because it puts money into our local business owners’ pockets but it also gets people spending sales tax dollars in our community, and the city gets a piece of that. Those dollars then can be utilized for other things that are needed, whether that’s streets, (the) fire department, police officers (and) all those other things that the city provides.”

When is the project going to be done? 

Danforth said that the city will submit the plans for the pavilion to the building safety department and expects the manufacturing of the building to begin next week. 

The initial pavilion will be completed by Oct. 31, Danforth said, just in time for the WRCA to host its World Championship Ranch Rodeo at the facility. However, officials expect the concrete floor, as well as lights, to be added to the facility in the early part of 2023. Miller said that the city also plans on doing a streetscape project around the facility, something that is expected to be a part of the overall project that will expand and renovate the Amarillo Civic Center Project. 

But even with the changes, Danforth said that some things will continue to be the same at the facility, including the open-air feel of the Amarillo Community Market, when it is hosted at the Santa Fe Depot, as well as certain things with the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo. 

“The community will still be able to drive up and down there. I know the community enjoys when the rodeo is in town, be able to look at all the horses and the cowboys,” Danforth said. “We are not taking that view away. It’s still there.”