AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Facilities Commission has endorsed a proposal to redevelop the Capitol complex with a mix of private development and new state buildings.
The commission voted 5-0 Wednesday for the measure that would be financed, in part, with savings generated by moving state employees out of leased office space in the city, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Private enterprise would be allowed to build on long-term grounds leases from the state.
The measure assumes the development could be financed without using tax dollars or increasing the state’s debt.
The next step would be the selection of one or more master development firms to analyze the commission’s concept, which includes looking at uses for all state property in Travis County.
Austin City Council members Sheryl Cole and Chris Riley were on hand Wednesday to endorse the plan. The city is contributing $200,000 to the study.
A fully developed Capitol complex, with a mix of government and private enterprise, would bolster part of downtown, plus increase property and sales tax receipts to the city, said Cole. The proposal also would impact the city’s plans for developing Waller Creek and attracting urban rail to the area, according to the councilwoman.
“We’d be remiss not to be at the planning table,” said Cole.
Betty Reinbeck of Sealy, the chairwoman of the facilities commission, welcomed the city’s interest.
“We need that kind of partnership with the city of Austin,” said Reinbeck.
The commission’s staff has identified 21 of the Capitol complex’s 122 acres as underused, mostly holding parking lots and garages.
Gary Bradley, a former developer and advocate of the suburban campus plan, urged the commission to study all options and not focus on one proposal yet.
“If you make this your plan, rightly or wrongly, you’ll be required to defend the plan at the Legislature,” said Bradley.
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