The Kline’s Cafe building (Kline’s), which has operated for more than 80 years as various businesses, is about to be relocated. It currently sits at the northwest corner of the proposed building site for the Rockport Center for the Arts’ (RCA) new Art Center and Performing Arts and Convention Center (PACC). The site was purchased in July 2016 prior to Hurricane Harvey. That storm destroyed the RCA, located at Rockport Harbor.
Since the RCA already owned land to rebuild, plans were expedited to raise funds for the new facility and move forward to begin construction of the new art center.
The City of Rockport and RCA also combined efforts to obtain a federal grant from the Economic Development Administration to construct a PACC upon the same site as the proposed new art center.
(Note: In May the Texas General Land Office announced Aransas County was awarded more than $43 million in Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery funding. Projects covered by that funding included the parking lot for the RCA’s new downtown campus, as well as other projects improving the area around the Downtown Anchor Project.)
Community involvement included meetings with historic societies, local groups, and public meetings. The community made it clear they wanted Kline’s to be preserved.
After much coordination, the decision was made and approved to relocate it to a site very near its current location in the Heritage District. This will enable the RCA to have more efficient use of the land for proposed buildings, parking, and public access.
The relocation Kline’s also offers opportunities to remedy flood risk, via a higher elevation at the new site, and to preserve the architectural and historic qualities important to the community.
The Kline’s Cafe building structure consists of a slab on grade foundation, masonry, cinder block and stucco walls, and a wood frame roof. It is a one-story, approximate 2,000-sq.-ft. building with a floor elevation within the FEMA floodplain. The structure is estimated to weigh 90 tons.
Although the building is not on the National Register of Historic Places, it is eligible, and its preservation is significant and will be greatly appreciated by the public.
Ram House Movers, Inc. will handle the relocation of Kline’s. It will be moved intact rather than being disassembled.
Since the structure is only a one-story building, with standard support beams and framing, there will be no advantage to a partial or total disassembly. The building interior will be completely shored along the main beam line, interior walls will be constructed at specific locations to provide further support, and all window openings will be blocked in as needed to further strengthen exterior walls.
The plan for relocation includes removal of the air conditioner from the roof prior to moving, and tunneling under the existing foundation to provide clearance for support beams (cross loaders). The main beams will then be placed for final lifting. All utilities, except electric, have been disconnected.
Other prep work includes the removal of asphalt around the perimeter of the building, as well as plants and trees.
Since structural plans do not exist for Kline’s, fieldwork will be performed to make a determination, after tunneling, to better understand and plan how to proceed with foundation design at the relocation site.
There is a 400-sq.-ft. area at the back of Kline’s, which was added to the original building in the 1960s. It has been removed.
The route for the relocation is very short. It runs from the existing site on North Street, westward to South Magnolia Street, and finally south along S. Magnolia to St. Mary’s Street. The building will be spun around and placed on its new higher elevation foundation at the corner of St. Mary’s and South Magnolia streets.
With good weather, the building relocation is expected to be complete in a 30-60 day timeframe. Some of this time will involve the construction of the new site foundation, which necessarily will lag the tunneling operations.
Although all moving projects contain varying degrees of risk, the RCA has complete confidence in the contractor selected to move Kline’s. Ram House Movers, Inc.’s great care and experience moving other concrete foundation buildings will be a major benefit for this project, which is expected to be successful. This company has never destroyed a building in the history of moving all types of structures.
Kline’s has weathered many hurricanes and saltwater exposure over decades of time. Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, with wind gusts up to 140 mph, only caused minimal damage to it.
Site preparation and demolition began the week of Nov. 15.
The actual relocation should begin the week of Nov. 22.
Who will own the building?
The Kline’s building title will transfer to a commercial interest controlled and managed by Ron Meyeres, proprietor of Austin’s Upside Ventures LLC. This transfer will occur once the building is laid on its new foundation at the relocation site.
Upside Ventures LLC will pay for the relocation in exchange for title ownership of the building. Restoration and maintenance of the building will be the responsibility of the new owner.
A structural engineer and contractor will design and build the new foundation to specificity once the existing foundation layout is known, after tunneling and partial lifting at the existing site. A final and definitive plan will not be available until that occurs.
Existing plants and shrubs will be relocated from the current building site to plant at the new site to give Kline’s an established presence in its new location. Further upgrades to meet city requirements are the responsibility of Upside Ventures LLC. Meyeres will coordinate with the city accordingly.