The legislative Joint Budget Committee today signed off on the state's purchase of the old Dillard's building on Capitol Avenue for $18.5 million. It houses the state Library and other agencies.
I first reported the state was going to buy this building -- and the price -- back in September. I bring it up only to link to my column, which explains how this all came about. The building purchase was one of the dominoes that moved people out of Big MAC, which allowed a move of legislative staff, which created the means to build some spiffy new office space for the state House of Representatives, R. Wills, prop. I figured at the time that the price tag for all the interrelated work was about $35 million.
At least taxpayers aren't getting stuck with the tunnel that Speaker Robbie wanted to keep heads dry. Times are a little lean for that.
The rehab of the Dillard's building is a great thing for downtown, no doubt. And the library should be more accessible now. It's a handsome addition, I'd be the first to admit.
There's an irony of timing in the news. The Dillard's building had been owned before the Texas developers who sold it to the state acquired it by the Union Rescue Mission. It was the late Jerry Davis' dream to make it into a center for the mission. Davis, one of the Mission's great benefactors, was the CEO of Affiliated Foods in the days when it was solvent.