May 28, 2012
Texas-Sized Planetarium Plans Underway In Austin
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
Everything is bigger in Texas, but some things in the state just have to be the biggest. In the latest news, the state capital, Austin, will be earning itself the award of having the largest planetarium in Texas.The 157,000 square foot facility will be a world-class science and technology museum, fearing a full-spectrum interactive science museum, and a technology center.
The Austin Planetarium will be built alongside with KUD International, a private sector development firm.
“This partnership is the opportunity we have been working very long and hard to achieve,” states Executive Director Torvald Hessel said in a statement. “By attracting a major international development firm, we have shown that, as a grassroots organization, we can do this.”
The partnership will create a development that includes a 47-story residential tower, restaurants, a gift store, retail space and over 1,000 underground parking spaces.
The development is estimated to cost about $240 million, which includes $95 million for the science and technology museum.
According to a press release, the new development will attract over 600,000 annual visitors, and create more than 650 full and part-time jobs in the area.
“The need,” says Hessel, “for a science and technology museum, specifically in Central Texas, has been recognized for 30 years.”
He said that in 1982, the Texas Sesquicentennial Museum Board found that a science and technology museum would be "the greatest opportunity to serve the best interest of the State." However, plans for the museum never unfolded.
“We are truly excited to be a part of the effort to bring what will be a cultural cornerstone for the City as well as a catalyst for development in the Capitol corridor”, Marvin Suomi, KUD´s President and CEO, said in a statement.
KUD and Austin Planetarium have submitted a proposal to the Texas Facilities Commission to approve a ground lease on the property. Hessel said he hopes to break ground on the facility next year.
If the planetarium is approved, the facility is expected to open up its doors to the public in 2016 or 2017.