New Braunfels Utilities pulls plug on downtown hotel plan

SAN ANTONIO – New Braunfels Utilities has exited a plan unveiled in 2021 to turn its more than 80-year-old headquarters building near Main Plaza into a new hotel, restaurant and bar.

The city of New Braunfels could ultimately resurrect the project, but the downtown structure will now be unavailable for redevelopment until at least 2027.

NBU confirmed that its board of trustees has approved the termination of a redevelopment agreement with the development team — Seals Family Properties, Kingham Dalton Wilson and Gillum Development. That group has sought to transform the building to include an anchor hotel, The Mainzer, as well as a new restaurant, bar and social garden capturing the city’s rich German culture.

NBU now plans to transfer ownership of its current headquarters building to the city of New Braunfels no later than Aug. 1. The utility will then lease back its current home from the city until 2027 when its new headquarters building is expected to be completed.

“We still think it’s important for downtown, so we’re still very interested in making this happen,” developer Gary Seals said.

New Braunfels leaders had high hopes for the project when it was first unveiled two and a half years ago.

“This is truly a historic moment in time,” NBU CEO Ian Taylor said at the time. “By allowing this corner of the plaza to redevelop takes downtown one more step toward the river.”

Seals says the project envisioned would bring catalytic change to New Braunfels, stimulating other redevelopment opportunities. But his group is now in for an extended wait.

In December 2021, NBU paused its planning and design phase for a new headquarters on the site of a former treatment plant and in early 2022 began a search for alternative properties. Late last year, the utility closed on real estate near Interstate 35 and Engel Road and expects to move into a new headquarters on that site in 2027.

Asked about the utility board’s decision, the city of New Braunfels noted in a statement, “The building that currently houses NBU is an important asset to our downtown. The city looks forward to seeing it thrive in the future as a significant economic development opportunity for our community.”

Read the full story in the San Antonio Business Journal.

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.

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