The city of Bryan may soon be home to a new hub for entrepreneurs.
The Bryan City Council approved a resolution during a Monday meeting that allows officials to move forward with creating the Lake Walk Innovation Center. It will be run out of the 27,000-square-foot office building that was built for the sports nutrition company Nutrabolt. The Nutrabolt headquarters moved to Austin last year.
Council members also learned about changes related to the Travis Bryan Midtown Park project, and selected councilman Buppy Simank to serve as mayor pro tem.
The Innovation Center’s main purpose is to “foster meaningful innovation” in the local region, according to the agenda summary. It is a center in which startups and early stage companies can be nurtured and grown until they are able to operate on their own throughout the Brazos Valley.
Lindsey Guindi, Bryan’s director of strategic projects, said the city is excited about the potential of what the investment could mean for the area.
“Industry gravitates to innovation economies where new ventures and talent are thriving,” she said in an interview before the meeting. “Supporting major job creation in our region is really the primary purpose of why we’re participating in this partnership.”
The resolution the council passed permits an agreement to be formed between the city of Bryan, Bryan Commerce and Development Inc., Bryan/Traditions and Traditions Acquisition Partnership for the development of the building at 3891 S. Traditions Drive.
There are four types of groups that would be permitted in the center: tenants in residence, startups, corporate members and mentors. Each are different, but all are similar in their mission to promote entrepreneurship in various ways.
Bryan/Traditions will own the building and will be responsible for selecting who can be a tenant in the building.
The purchase price for the building is $9.2 million, Guindi said. Bryan Commerce and Development, or BCD, is making an initial equity investment of $2.76 million. The remaining $6.44 million is being financed by First Financial Bank.
Revenue would be generated at the property through tenant leases, donations and memberships in the fitness area that may be developed in part by using gym equipment left in the building by the previous owners. But Guindi said officials see the center primarily as an economic development tool for the city and for the region as a whole.
“We see the potential income stream being generated by the real estate really secondary to it being an economic development tool,” Guindi said. “What’s going on and taking place inside the building and what that’s creating in our community is really what we see as the number one benefit being from this partnership.”
Moving forward, officials will need to agree on a budget and lease terms for tenants. Guindi said there will be several additional items that BCD will need to approve regarding the operations of the building.
City staff has been discussing the center with the council in executive session since around September. Guindi said around the first quarter of next year, doors may be open for people to use the facility.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t hinder any of the processes to move the plans for the center forward, Guindi said. In fact, she said, it served as a motivation.
“Any time there is a downturn in your economy, it kind of serves as a push for entrepreneurship,” she said. “So I think it almost served as a great reason for us to get out there and see job creation happening in our community and helping people get back on their feet.”
In a presentation on Travis Bryan Midtown Park, Frank Clark, Bryan business liaison and special projects manager, said one of the most recent updates to the project’s plans include moving the location for the sports and event center. Initially it was going to be along West Villa Maria Road, but the most recent design plans place it near the corner of Williamson Drive and Roundtree Drive. Officials have completed arsenic testing for the lake and are deepening and widening the limits of the lake, which was about 16 acres and is being expanded to be 22 acres. The depth is being increased from 2 feet to 6 feet deep, with some areas 8 feet deep. Clark said work on the lake will be completed in the spring or summer of 2021.
The Travis Little League fields are expected to be finished by late spring 2021 and the sports and events center should be completed by summer 2022.
For more information related to Monday’s meeting, including a new lease agreement at Coulter Airfield and the creation of an operating fund for the Phillips Event Center, visit bryantx.gov/channel16.