wurstfest demo

Scaffolding lines the inside of Wursthalle to help support the structure on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. Wursthalle received some smoke damage due to the fire. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

With rubble from the burned Marktplatz now cleared from the Wurstfest grounds, work is already underway on raising a new structure.

Suzanne Herbelin, Wurstfest executive director, said schematic designs have been completed and will soon be reviewed by the Wurstfest Association’s rebuilding committee. 

“When they’re approved by the general membership, we will release them to the public,” she said on Wednesday.

Three weeks of demolition of Wurstfest’s famous food court — scorched in the Nov. 14-15 fire — ended on Jan. 8, Herbelin said. Fort Worth-based T.S. Byrne Co., also known as Byrne Construction Services, has been selected to manage the design-build of the structure. 

Byrne is noted for historical rebuilds of the Lila Cockrell Theater in San Antonio and Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie. 

Byrne, which also recently built the city’s Das Rec, New Braunfels Recreation Center, has selected San Antonio-based MarmonMok Architecture for the design phase of the rebuild.

“The changes will be directed by what we can and can’t do today, versus what we did when it was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” Herbelin said. “It will have a different look and perhaps a different feel, but all the elements that were in the Marktplatz will continue to be in the Marktplatz.”

Wurstfest committees and stakeholders will see designs offering various concepts of the new Marktplatz in aerial views from above and from several viewpoints on the inside. Once the final concepts are approved — possibly by month’s end – the project will enter the design-build phase, with designs of various aspects performed as construction goes along.

Herbelin said planning and staging the rebuild continues to be an ongoing process. 

“Even though there’s nothing (people) can see taking place onsite, there’s a lot of work going on,” she said. “What we’re going to build has to have a lot of things figured out. 

“It’s a tremendous amount — it involves several meetings each week with construction staff and everything else — things that the public can’t see right now.”

The 12-member rebuild committee has been meeting with Wurstfest Association committees to address everything needed for the rebuild. Herbelin said the total cost hasn’t yet been determined or approved by the organization’s membership. 

“We approved the design portion of the contract with Byrne, which will bring back a rough draft before membership meets to approve the next expenditure,” she said. 

 

The cause of the fire, suspected as a faulty light bulb, or improper storage of combustibles next to a heat-producing source inside one of the food booths, will be addressed during the rebuild. Atop the list is finishing the water connection to fire sprinklers inside the Marktplatz, which were installed but not operational at the time of the fire.

“The trenching required to (connect) water from outside of the property to inside the property had to cross a major electrical service,” Herbelin said. “The timing was so close to the festival there was concern that any damage to that service couldn’t be repaired in time. 

“Everyone agreed to wait until after the festival, which is why it wasn’t hooked up. But it absolutely will be hooked up and ready before the next festival.”

Wurstfest will stage its 60th edition in November, and the key is to finish as much possible before then, Herbelin said. 

“Our goal is to have enough of it done in time for the next Wurstfest,” she said. “We have to be able to feed 40,000 people in one day. We’ve identified the vendors who can do that — and those are the booths that we’ll make sure are completed and ready to roll when we open.

“If we can’t get them all open, well that’s something we’ll have to live with in the first year. But the goal is to get all of them up and running.”

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