How Cabelas Came to Buda


Shopping centers and restaurants seem to grow out of the ground here in Buda. However, these developments are often the result of hard work done by our city government and Economic Development Corporation. This is the story of how Buda came together to bring Cabela’s to town.

In 1893 a man named Few Rylander moved his family to Buda.  He bought 546 acres of land on the northeast side of Buda.  This land was on both sides of Onion Creek and the part of today’s Main street that runs from the railroad tracks to IH 35.

Cotton was the staple crop of the area and that is what the Rylander family grew until the late 1920’s. By the early 1930’s drought, erosion, boll weavils, and government regulations forced the family to switch to cattle raising and dairying. During the 1940’s Don Rylander grew up helping his family in the cattle and dairy business.  He left Buda, graduated from college and then made his mark in the business world.  He returned to the Buda family farm in 1972 to stay.

Don Rylander quietly lived on his 126-acre farm raising cattle and horses for the next 30 years.  He was often seen riding his bicycle down to the post office on Main street with his small dog in the basket.

The city of Buda created The DuPree Development Corporation to manage the retail development on the 126 acres through a tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. The Buda Economic Development Corporation under the auspices of The DuPre Corporation approached Rylander about selling his property. A mysterious company had made its interests known that they were interested in a large retail location near IH 35 in Buda.  The Rylander Farm fit the bill.  The Dupree Corporation purchased the land.

The Buda City Council and the Hays County Commissioners Court determined that the development of the site would not exceed $36 million.  The costs eventually were determined to be $31,762.922.  The city of Buda used revenue bonds to finance the project. The city’s goal was to create a retail center that would generate jobs and sales tax.
Rylander Tract(Rylander Tract, Outlined in red)

A sales contract was written and Rylander agreed to sell his farm for about $10 million. After the sale closed the city of Buda used revenue bonds to pay for the development of the site.  The mystery buyer turned out to be Cabelas, the World’s foremost Outfitter and sporting goods store.  They started construction in 2004.

As the closing of the sale approached Don Rylander was notified that he would have to pay a $300,000 roll-back tax bill, since his commercial property previously had an agriculture exemption that allowed him to pay very low taxes each year.  The tax bill almost wrecked the deal, but Cabela’s agreed to pay the tax bill for Rylander.

On June, 29, 2005 Cabala’s opened their 185,000 square foot Buda store.  It was sold as a tourist attraction with museum quality displays and large aquariums.  The Buda EDC owns 20% of the building and about 1/3 of the land under the building.

Don Rylander took some of his proceeds and bought a tract of land adjacent to Bastrop State Park. He donated his new property to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for expansion of the park.  Rylander included the stipulation that he could live on the property until he died.  TPWD has the right to convert it to parkland after that time.

For Buda, this sale transformed the entryway of the city.  Other businesses wanted to be at this same location.  Wal Mart and Mavericks Dance Hall are both built on part of the old Rylander Farm.  Restaurants also came to the site.  Our eating choices now include, Logan’s Road House, Cracker Barrell, Jaliscos, Chilis, Panda Express, Arby’s, Frulati Café, and Double Dave’s Pizza.  Hamburger choices abound.  We have Dan’s Hamburgers, Hat Creek Burger and Whataburger.

Buda now is a very different place because of Don Rylander’s sale of this large, strategically located piece of property.  In many ways Cabela’s put Buda on the map for future development. We’re thankful for the dedicated people in our city government and Economic Development Corporation- they ensure that Buda has grown sustainably and in a way that benefits the people of our fine city.


The Lehman High School Story

Hays County has always been a place of community effort. That effort was crucial to establishing the school district’s second high school site and I’m proud to have been a part of it.


In 2001 The Hays CISD Administration office hired John B. Sanford Real Estate to assist the district in finding two new school sites.  Student growth had caused the need for a new high school.  We had several early meetings about the process.  The staff informed me that when a district changed from one high school to two high schools that this was more difficult than moving from two high schools to three.  We had to take in account the location of Hays High School which was in the middle part of the western half of the district.  The new high school site could not be too close to Hays High school.   This requirement caused the search to be in an arc from FM 1626 and the Travis County Line over to the east side of IH 35 and then south to the extreme south end of the district.  The school district already owned a large enough land tract on FM 967 just to the west of FM 1626, so this site was included as the first option along the arc.

As I contacted land owners along this arc, at times I received the response, “John do not consider part of my property, move along to your other choices.”  It was becoming clear that not everyone wanted a new high school as a neighbor.  Eventually we found a list of eight land tracts along the arc that were far enough away from Hays High School.  The staff wanted to narrow it down to the three best choices and then let the school board make the final decision.

The final decision came down to a tract of land owned by Ted Lehman off of Bunton Creek Rd in Kyle.  As I sat across from him at his kitchen table and discussed the possible sale of some of his farm land he told me, “Mr. Sanford if it was anybody else wanting some of my land I would not sell, but because it is for the school district I will try to make this work.”   At that time, I did not realize that he was a former Hays CISD School Board President.

lehman aerial
Mr. Lehman was very particular about where the boundary line would be since he would still own the adjacent land.  He did not like the location of one of the surveyor’s stakes and on a rainy muddy day he told me to find a jeep and he and I would drive out in the mud and drive a stake at the exact point where he wanted it.  After we finished, he asked,” Mr. Sanford, Where did you get this jeep.”  I told him that I had borrowed it from Michael Thames.”  He commented, “Those Thames boys are good boys.”  I answered, “Yes sir.”  He added, “They both played football for Hays.  That John Thames would really hit you if you carried the ball around his side of the field.  Be sure and tell Michael Thank you for the loan of the jeep.”

All through this process there was concern in the community about football coach Bob Shelton and his opinion about opening up a second high school. In other districts football coaches have been known to oppose new high schools out of a fear of dividing up athletic talent.  I knew coach Shelton because we both volunteered on the board of the North Hays Optimist Club.  One day I asked him, and he said, “John, I’m not going to be one to object to a second high school.  Right now, I have three boys to a locker for freshman football.  The second high school is needed.”

As we moved closer to the time of the sale, Mr. Lehman, decided that he would make a donation of a part of the land.  The site ended up being a total of 53.46 acres.

The Lehman High School campus opened in 2004 with 960 students in grades 8 through 10.  The school was named after the family of Ted Lehman.   Today a 455 seniors will walk the stage to graduate from Lehman.


Growing from small farming communities to suburban ones has at times been hard for Buda and Kyle. But the great efforts of our people helped move us forward in 2001 and again now as we look forward to the opening the district’s 3rd high school. More people may come, but I have faith that the people of Hays County will always do what it takes for the next generation.

Buda’s Carrington House Story

Buda is a city that changes with the times. From a small railroad stop to a thriving residential community Buda has always managed to carry some of its history with it. We can see these changes reflected structurally in one of Buda’s oldest and prettiest buildings- The Carrington House.

The old revivalist style home is one of the first buildings to greet you as you drive in on Main St and has been home to some of Buda’s important residents and seen its biggest changes.


The Carrington House was built as a hotel in 1882 by L.D. Carrington on 320 N. Main St. It was one of the first structures built on Main Street and intended to serve passengers on the new railroad stop in Buda which at the time was known as DuPre.

The hotel may be partially responsible for how Buda got its name. In the late 1800s that Texas had another DuPre and so the city would need a new name. One story of Buda’s origin is that the town was named after the Mexican widows, the “viudas,” who cooked food at the Carrington Hotel

The house would later be owned by W.S. Birdell, Dr. J.J. Horton, and the Millers. These were important figures in Buda’s history and many of their names have been memorialized in the streets of some of our newer residential subdivisions.

In spite of this history there was a time when the Carrington House was in such bad condition that it almost could not be restored.  In 1977 it was offered for sale and I drove down from Austin to see the property.  The price was under $30,000.  I was tempted to buy it, but I had brought a builder friend along with me and he advised me that it was too far gone.  He told me that it would cost so much to restore it that I could never make any money on the investment.  I took his advice and I passed on the opportunity.

In 1993, when I moved to Buda I met the amazing couple who had bought the home in 1977.  Neil and Lois Franklin had purchased the house and “brought it back.”  When I met them, they were living in the house and Neil was running his surveying and engineering business out of one of the downstairs front rooms.

They told me about all of the work that they had done to the Carrington House. They started with the foundation and then moved on to rebuilding the porches.  They added new electrical wiring, plumbing with new fixtures and a new central air conditioning system.  In the process they replaced a lot of damaged and deteriorated wood work and painted the house a tan color.

After Neil died, Lois decided to sell the house.  When she made this decision, I got a second chance to buy the property.  I bought it with 3 partners and we converted it to commercial office suites.  During the time that our partnership owned the property we rebuilt the porches (again) and added a new metal roof.  Of course we also replaced damaged wood and did more painting.

After many years of care and restoration the Carrington House could be a contributing structure in Buda’s National Historic District designation.

In January 2018 our partnership sold the property to a new owner who plans to maintain the property and continue its proper care.

The charm of Buda can be found in its history. Preserving the buildings and legacies that make Buda unique will be the main challenge in keeping the city a special place as we continue to grow.

John B. Sanford

The Buda Stagecoach Park Story

Buda’s Stagecoach Park on Main Street is a wonderful place with historic buildings, trails, playgrounds, and even an Amphitheater. The park is also a monument to Texas charm with its trails lined by Pecan, Live Oak, and Blueberry Juniper trees. But this great place was not always meant to be- in 1998 the site of Buda’s Stagecoach Park was on track to become an overnight RV park. As towns grow they can often to lose track their country landscapes, this is the story of the part I played in preserving some of Buda’s natural beauty.

At the beginning of 1998 the old stagecoach house property and site of future Stagecoach Park on Main Street (52 acres) was listed for sale by an Austin Realtor. The owners were two Stanzel Brothers – Victor & Joe.

The Austin Realtor had a buyer for the property that wanted to turn it into an RV campground. At that time, I was a member of the Buda Old Town Association and our organization had worked diligently to have the old stagecoach house part of the property (1.9 acres) gift deeded to our organization. This is the historic home built for postmasters of Buda. We had no idea what would happen to the remaining 50 acres.

By June 1998 Gray White, the Buda Mayor, became alarmed that the sale to the RV Park developer might go through. He and I met to discuss the property. He complained that the Austin Realtor would not take him seriously about the City of Buda wanting to buy the property. The realtor was not returning Mayor White’s telephone calls.


I told Gray that there was a state law that said that a listing broker had to present a written contract offer to the owners. I told him that if we wrote up a contract to buy the property then the listing Realtor would have to present to offer to Victor & Joe Stanzel and the Realtor would also have to talk to the city.

By a stroke of luck the Stanzel brothers had a niece named Helen Niesner who lived in Hays Country Oaks subdivision just to the west of Buda. When Helen learned of the two options for the property, she talked with her uncles and helped to persuade them to sell the property to the city instead of to the RV park developer.

At this same time, Grey White then made the remarkable decision for the City of Buda to buy all of the property.   He had found the necessary money somewhere in the city budget and we scheduled the closing for August 1998. The sale closed on August 28, 1998 at the Law offices of Robert Giberson (Hays County Abstract) located at 317 North Railroad Street Buda, Texas.

There was some continued talk about the Old Stagecoach House and the original post office building being donated to the Buda Old Town Association, but in the end the city decided to retain all of the property.

stagecoach park map

In February 2004 Texas Parks & Wildlife made a $500,000 donation to the City of Buda “to acquire by donation 1.2 acres and develop 50.4 acres of city-owned non-parkland as Buda Stagecoach Park located on Onion Creek in the east area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.2 acre wetland dedication, 5.0 acre open space dedication, 1.91 mile hike/bike trail, 0.15 mile nature trail, wetland garden, lighted amphitheater, pavilion, playground, nine picnic stations, 10 benches, pond, three camp sites, council ring, creek observation overlook, wetland observation overlook, park overlook, creek access areas, wildflower meadow, xeriscape gardens, three educational/information kiosks, interpretive signs, and program signs. The local match consists of the value of the city-owned non-parkland, Hays County grant funds, and private donations of land and labor.”

As a member of the Hays county Parks Advisory Board I was pleased to cast a vote to approve the above described “grant funds” from Hays County for the Stagecoach Park development.

The Old Stagecoach house is now the location of the city of Buda Parks & Recreation Department as well as the city tourism office. The remainder of the land is now a city park, The Stagecoach Park.

Growth across Central Texas has changed many communities and separated us from our natural histories. Often our discussions of land are in the utilitarian language of zoning, parking, and site planning. At Stagecoach Park on Main St. in Buda we managed to preserve, for generations to come, some of the wild beauty that preceded our town.


John B. Sanford, Realtor, Representative for the City of Buda for the purchase of the Old stagecoach House and Buda original post office.

SH 45 Extension – September Update

45swTravis county voters approved the SH 45 extension connecting FM 1626 to Mopac in 1997.  It is now completely funded and under construction as a toll road.  There had been a last-minute effort to stop this road with a lawsuit, but on August 4th the Federal court decisively ruled in favor of the Mobility Authority and TxDOT.  Work is now being done on overpasses at Bliss Spiller Road, Bear Creek, and Danz Creek.  The scheduled completion of this important road is Late 2019.

When completed SH 45 Southwest will knock 9 to 17 minutes off the drive time for area commuters traveling from Buda into central Austin.  The road opening will also reduce traffic and shorten drive times on Brodie Lane.

For Hays county residents, this road will also improve connectivity between Dripping Springs and the Buda-Kyle area.  This new east-west travel option will replace traveling on narrow country roads that have many twists and turns.

A retail and mixed-use development called Hays Commons is planned at the intersection of SH 45 SW and FM 1626.  Over 100 acres is planned for a commercial area that  could include a grocery store and complimentary retail.  As a part of the development agreement with the city of Hays 113 acres of parkland will be donated to the city.

John B. Sanford, Broker

The Sportsplex Land Story – Buda, Texas


Development doesn’t always go in a straight line. The paths that turn vacant land into shopping centers, grocery stores and homes are full of unexpected twists. In the mid-2000s I was involved in developing a significant commercial corner in Buda that opened up land for over a thousand homes. It is important to keep histories of Buda’s past alive as the city grows, this is one story of how Buda came to be.

In 2004 The land at the Northwest corner of FM 967 and FM 1626 was undeveloped and owned by the Dahlstrom Family.  On the tax rolls, it was in the name of Cecilia Austin.  Knowing the potential for the property I called her to discuss it. Mrs. Austin explained that the land was tied up in a complicated family partnership and selling the property would be difficult due to conflicting interests.

After several months of family negotiations, I successfully listed the property for sale.  Michael Thames and Terri Wimmer then bought the property.

In 2005, Michael Thames and Terri Wimmer, donated the land just west of the intersection for the Fire & EMS station that is now there.  They also sold the corner lot to Sac-N-Pac for a convenience store which has since been bought by Stripes.

Thames & Wimmer sold the majority of the remaining land (98 acres) to the Buda Economic Development Corporation. I was one of the agents that negotiated the land sale.   In July of 2005, the Buda EDC then donated 14.19 acres for the Hays Communities YMCA.  The Buda EDC then started developing the baseball fields as a Sportsplex that could hold baseball and softball tournaments.  In 2008 the Sportsplex baseball fields were completed. The EDC also developed 7.5 acres of frontage lots which were bought by many businesses.


As part of developing the 7.5 acres of commercial lots the Buda EDC extended the city sewer lines to this property.  The first commercial lots were sold in 2006.  The sewer line for the commercial lots also provided city sewer for the land that was later developed into Garlic Creek, Elm Grove, Whispering Hollow, and Summer Pointe residential subdivisions.

To many the growth in Northwest Buda around FM 1626 and FM 967 may seem like a natural process of time. But in fact these changes required dozens of actors all working in concert for many years.  Buda has come to be the city we love in spurts and twists. In this case it was from a phone call that turned vacant land to a commercial corner that provided sewer access to many new residents.

John B. Sanford, Realtor  –  Community Builder

Recent Commercial Real Estate Transactions

We are happy to be a part of the growth of Hays County! Below are some recent sales that we have completed and that you may see around town.

  • Leased a 15,000 sq ft warehouse in The Park 35 South industrial development to Austin Materials
  • Sold 5 acres located at 2041 FM 2001 for a new 46,000 sq ft warehouse building. This is the new home for Buda Woodworks.
  • Sold 4 acres on Robert S. Light Blvd (Buda Truck By-Pass) to Liquid Waste Solutions. They will build their new facility at this location
  • Sold 503 South Loop 4 (aka FM 967 South) Office / Retail building to an investor.  This commercial building has two lease spaces
  • Sold a hotel site on White Wing Drive (new FM 2001) A new Studio Six Hotel is now being built on this site. (Cabelas Overpass – East side)
  • Sold 2 acres on S. Loop 4 (FM 967 South) to an investor who is building two 10,000 sq ft buildings. We are now looking for tenants.
  • Sold 1.8 acres on Old Goforth Road just to the south of Green Meadows Drive. A new neighborhood convenience store is being built on this site.

State Hwy 45 Southwest – Update

Today a federal judge in Austin denied the injunction against the future toll road planned on State Highway 45 that will connect Mopac to 1626 in Hays County.

Construction will now be allowed to begin on the 3.6 mile tollway that will give Buda residents another route into Austin.

You can read more here on the Austin American Statesman

Hays CISD Schools Update

August 2019 is the projected opening date for Hays CISD’s third high school that will be built on land that the school district already owns on FM 967 just to the east of Carpenter Hill Elementary School.  The $122 million school is planned to be about 413,500 total square feet.  The schematic design is available for viewing at the District’s Administrative building on IH 35.  The school is being designed to serve 2,250 students.

McCormick Middle School is now open at 5700 Dacy Lane – Buda, Tx.  The first day of classes was Monday August 22, 2016.

Major Arterial Improvements – Buda – Kyle


FM 1626 –  3.3 miles from FM 967 down to FM 2770 is set to be widened to a four lane divided highway with a continuous turn lane.  The cost is expected to be $22 million.  Construction is set to begin by June 2016.

State Hwy 45 Southwest – (Connection from FM 1626 to the south end of the MoPac Expressway)  The Travis County Commissioners have voted to reinstate this project. The process for refining the final design for the project is now under way. All necessary right-of-way has been purchased.

  • The cost for this road will be about $100 million. Travis County has contributed $15 million and Hays County has contributed $5 million for the design of the road with left over funds going to construction. All funding for this project is now in place.
  • On March 5, 2015 the Texas Department of Transportation issued a Record of Decision which allowed SH 45 SW to proceed to final design and construction.  Rodriguez Transportation Group has been hired to develop final construction plans, details and specifications.
  • TxDOT is advertising a RFQ to be able to hire an Independent Environmental Compliance Management Company
  • Estimated Start of Construction December 2016

Once this road is completed it will allow for much easier east – west traffic between Buda – Kyle and the Dripping Springs part of Hays County.  It will also give Buda and Kyle area residents a third commuting way into Austin.  The first two being IH 35 and SH 130 toll.

(Above rendering from the Austin American Statesman)

Minor North – South Arterials that are generally parallel to IH 35

New connecting roads through the Hays Commerce Center Business development at the northwest corner of IH 35 and Kyle Crossing.  Vista Ridge Drive and Gateway Boulevard are now under construction by the developer. These new roads will allow north – south travel on the west side of IH 35 without using the Interstate or FM 1626.

Marketplace Avenue Extension south to Burleson Road  –  3 lane minor arterial on the west side of IH 35. This $3.8 million extension will be complete in Summer 2016

Goforth Road Widening to Bunton Creek Road  –  This 3 and 4 lane improvement to Goforth Road on the east side of IH 35 will start construction in May 2016.  The cost is $6.6 million. The city of Kyle plans to extend Goforth Road from Bunton Creek further north to Kyle Parkway for the cost of an additional $1 million.

Old Goforth Road widening to 3 lanes.  This Buda project is in the engineering phase.  After it is let for bidding, construction could start by the end of 2016.

South Loop 4 (FM 967 South) widening to 3 lanes.  This project is in the engineering phase.


For all road information contact John B. Sanford, the Hays county transportation expert. 512-922-5633

1 2