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As Bryan expands, so does BTU, utility giant looking to build new facility

Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 21:04:25-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — If you live in Bryan or have driven around the mid-town park area within the last few days, you may have noticed demolition going on at the old Bryan Armory and may have been wondering why.

The historic site will hopefully make a lasting impact on Bryan and its' utility customers.

Bryan Texas Utilities has been using the same utility building space since the 1960s, and expansion of additional space is long overdue.

David Werley, Executive Director of Business and Customer Operations at BTU, says, within Bryan City Limits there has been around a 2-2.5% growth over the last dozen years.

"Out in the rural areas... even bigger in some areas. We've got a lot more customers. In that time frame, we have added about 22,000 customers or so.. BTU is up to almost 65,000 customers. We have not expanded facilities since the 60s," Werley said.

Werley says, the Army stopped using the old Armory building around 10 years ago and the building has sat vacate since.

Demolition of the old Amory building has started to take place at the site on West Carson Street and will wrap up over the next two weeks. What's to come will help better serve BTU customers once BTU's new facility there is complete.

"The BTU board authorized the demolition of these buildings, so that has been going great. All of the hazardous materials that were in there from the old-time building, materials that contained asbestos have been removed. The building has been re-mediated from any kind of hazardous material," Werley added.

Werley says the current BTU building was once a city hall building and was never really designed to be a utility building and a new and improved facility will better serve its customers, including its drive-thru operation.

Over the last 5 months, BTU has had around 31,000 in-person payments and Werley believes around 80% came from the drive-thru, which kept their two drive-thru lanes often pretty busy.

"We only have 2 drive-thru lanes. They do back up quickly right on to the street. This new facility, we will be able to design it to be a utility building. We plan to expand drive-thru lanes because people like drive-thru lanes. We are trying to make sure that it's the customer-friendly experience when it comes to utilities," Werley said.

News of the expansion is music to the ears of longtime BTU customer Brenda Sanchez.

"..... More space. We need a bigger drive-thru. If they can accommodate 3 or 4 lines where we are not so packed up into the driveway, that is what I am hoping for or even more windows up at the front... a bigger lobby," Brenda Sanchez said.

Sanchez says, BTU has been serving her family since 1967 and then she and her husband became customers in 1983 and have seen the inevitable growth Bryan has endured.

"Bryan needs to grow.... Bryan is growing... It really is growing so I would like to see something more modern," Sanchez added.

Werley says the current BTU building will eventually be used for additional office spaces for the City of Bryan. He also hopes the new BTU building will serve BTU customers for the next 30-50 years.

Werley says once the demolition of the armory building is complete, an empty lot will sit. The design process will then take place shortly after which will take a few months. Werley says they hope construction will take place on-site sometime in the fall.

Werley says they have a 20 million dollar budget for this project which is financed through bonds and will not affect customer rates.

The 20 million includes the entire project. From demo of the armory building, the design, and building of the new facility.

The project has been approved and is progressing. The design is not yet done. Werley says once they start construction could take 18-24 months.

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