Roofing damage, asbestos threat at Austin’s Dougherty Arts Center


AUSTIN (KXAN) — After heavy rains this past fall, the Dougherty Arts Center has sustained some major damage. The South Austin community center is being forced to relocate its children’s programs to a separate wing of the building. 

“It’s a great location and they offer so many great things,” said Diane Kett, whose son attends a Dougherty Arts Center after school program. 

“It’s an essential part of learning in the area,” said Mark Petterson, whose daughter attends a children’s program, as well. 

For over four decades, families just like these have walked through the doors. 

“They provide a service to local schools for parents to allow them to work and to supplement the education systems,” Petterson said. 

But the Doughtery Arts Center has reached its shelf-life, leaving behind some unwanted watercolors.. 

“This is one of the children’s dance rooms, we’re standing on a wood floor that sustained water damage from water migrating in through the roof membrane and into the ceiling cavity,” said Kevin Johnson, a project manager, for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. 

Ceiling tiles have warped, molded and cracked. 2x4s hold up the roof in troubled spots. The entire children’s wing is now off-limits. 

“We’ve got some temporary protections that have helped, but we also have conditions that need to be addressed, cleaned and properly repaired,” Johnson said. 

With fears of a threat of asbestos, the parks and recreation department considers the future for the community hub. 

“This building has lived a long life and we are working towards a replacement now, so any solution here would be temporary by nature,” Johnson said. 

$128 million, from the passed 2018 bond, will go towards a replacement center. 

It’s not clear how much the new center will cost or where it will be. But for now, parks and rec. is doing what it can to get the creativity center back on its feet. 

“As long as it’s running and they are able to make the repairs, then we would be more than willing to keep coming back,” Petterson said. 

Butler Shores is a site being considered for the next center. That’s a little more than half a mile away from the Dougherty Arts Center. 

There are still several logistical challenges ahead, including final approval from city council. There’s no timeline yet for when those plans might come together. 


Officials with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department are considering options to repair portions of the Dougherty Arts Center after the community arts complex sustained roofing damage caused by recent rains.

Project manager Kevin Johnson said the damage is mostly located in the kids programming wing, which has forced it to close. The kid’s programs have temporarily moved to the adult wing.

Johnson said there are other threats to be addressed, as well. The building will have to be combed for asbestos contamination. Johnson said it will be inspected in the coming weeks.

There is no timeline yet for when the arts center will be fixed, but Johnson said they are considering a number of cost-efficient options.

In November, Austin voters approved a $925-million bond election, with $128-million set aside for libraries, museums and cultural arts facilities. Repairing or replacing portions of the Dougherty Arts Center will factor into that budget.

Stay tuned for KXAN news at 10 p.m. for an in-depth look into the damage at the Dougherty Arts Center and what options officials are considering for the future of the community hub.

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