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Riverside renovation: Fancy restaurant planned for Riverside Park

By DAVID TEWES
March 22, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated March 21, 2010 at 10:22 p.m.


Dennis Patillo said he expects the restaurant to create up to 32 jobs for Victoria.

The improvements are estimated to produce $254,700 in property taxes over 10 years for the city, county and other taxing entities.

Sales tax income over the same period is estimated at $1.39 million.

A Victoria couple plans to take a $68,500 purchase in Riverside Park and spend more than $1 million to transform it into a restaurant and bar featuring classic American cuisine.

"I believe Riverside Park is one of the most underutilized assets that the city of Victoria has," said Dennis Patillo, who plans to work with his wife, Louise Hull-Patillo, to develop the business.

The addition of the restaurant will offer another amenity that should make the park more attractive and draw more visitors, Patillo said.

The Patillos bought an historic pump house structure and 1.73 acres on Stayton Street from the city of Victoria earlier this year. The complex's first building was constructed in 1890 and additions were made later.

The city council considered demolishing the building about three years ago at a price of $250,000 to $300,000. It also was costing the city $20,000 a year to maintain the property and building.

Lewis Neitsch, who was on the council at the time, and Council Member Tom Halepaska asked the council to wait. They wanted to determine if the property could instead be sold and put on the tax roll.

Halepaska said it looks like that idea worked well.

"What is slightly lacking in the park is a nice restaurant," he said. "This would just make it all the better."

Patillo believes the business will be something that will make the community proud, he said.

"The purchase price is only the beginning," he said. "It's going to take quite a bit of development to turn that property into the destination site that we plan for it to be."

As they did to their Downtown Victoria home, the Patillos plan to restore the Riverside Park buildings to their original appearance because historic restoration is a passion for the couple, they said.

"It's going to be a restaurant and a bar and a venue for live entertainment, as well as a place for people to have private functions," Patillo said. "So clearly, the buildings that are there today are not enough to accomplish all those things."

Additional buildings will be constructed to handle the additional services, and they will be built in the same style as the original building. There will also be a deck overlooking the Guadalupe River.

Architectural and engineering plans should be completed in six to seven weeks.

"I'm hoping we could complete construction in six to seven months, but Louise is thinking it may take a little longer than that," Patillo said.

The Pumphouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar will feature primarily classic American cuisine: appetizers, soups, sandwiches, burgers, steaks and desserts, with specials ranging from comfort food to gourmet fare.

The owners plan to conduct focus groups to determine the community desires and build the final menu around the requests of those who participate. Plans include a full bar with several choices of atmosphere: outdoor deck, indoor but informal, indoor and upscale.

John Johnston, the city floodplain administrator, has said it appears the land is in the 100-year floodplain, but not the building. More exact measurements would be needed to confirm that, he said.

"But even with it being in this portion of the floodplain, development is allowed, especially commercial development," he said. "Commercial developers have the opportunity to use materials that are flood resistant and make sure that if water does get in there, they can just wash it out and go right back."

Patillo said the flooding there has been researched and it appears the longest the property has been flooded is seven days. He said the building itself did not flood in the record 1998 flood, but the business plan includes being closed at times for flooding.

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