An Austin Independent School District advertisement for bids on more than 102 acres at 10 locations around the city will no doubt stir developer interest.
Given the variety of locations—from the Central Business District to a tony Travis Country bedroom community near the Barton Creek Greenbelt—there are possibilities for high-end townhomes, affordable multifamily, upscale single family, commercial and mixed-use developments.
The most valuable property put on the market is the school district’s headquarters—the Carruth Administration Center at 1111 W. 6th Street in the very desirable Clarksville neighborhood just west of downtown. If sold “as is,” Austin ISD has set a minimum bid price of $30 million.
Other properties around downtown Austin include the home of the Austin Club, the historic Millett Opera House at 110 E 9th Street. At a minimum, Austin ISD expects to raise $77 million for the 10 properties.
The requests for bids and proposals issued Monday also announce a pre-bid conference to be held Oct. 18th. Property tours of each site have been scheduled between Oct. 20-28. Southwest Strategies Group is conducting the marketing and brokering proposal for Austin ISD.
Every listed property comes with two proposal options. There are “Bid Packages” for those interested in an outright purchase or a long-term lease (10 years or more), or a land swap.
There is more to this than a cash offer. Austin ISD is also inviting civic organizations, and adds this descriptive:
“AISD encourages the submission of bids reflecting creative and innovative ideas for the use of the property.”
Developers may also submit a “Proposal Package” in the event their interest is for the “repurposing, short-term lease, partnership or other open-ended options.” A short-term lease is for less than 10 years.
Austin ISD’s direction on Proposal Packages states that the plan shall include statements on how it will satisfy one or more of the district’s goals: “to expand academic offerings available to students, support efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing, especially for district employees and families with children, consider (the) district’s administrative space and design needs, and are fiscally advantageous for the district and provide a one-time or preferably recurring revenue source for the district.”
That’s a mouthful, but it’s clear the Austin ISD trustees have prioritized the need for affordable housing. Furthermore, there’s been in place a Joint Subcommittee of the city, AISD trustees and Travis County exploring the creation of affordable housing on public land; on Thursday (Oct. 13) City Council will pass a resolution directing the city manager to explore the feasibility of proposals “as a sole respondent or in partnership with other entities” to pursue affordable, mixed-use housing, workforce development, or other projects that benefit the community on the Austin ISD properties.
Where is that most likely to occur? Several properties having advantageous zoning and enough land area for affordable or mixed-income housing.
Here is a summary of each property:
4900 Gonzales Street – Allan Center – Minimum Bid: $12 million
A 19.81-acre site located in the rapidly changing east Austin area, Allan Center is easily accessible from East Cesar Chavez, East 7th Street or Airport Boulevard, and is located 3.5 miles east of downtown, near Highway 183. The site is composed of three single- and two-story buildings totaling 113,000 square feet and includes a parking lot with 75 spaces. Built in 1957, this was originally a middle school and later converted to an elementary. Most recently, it has been utilized as office space for non-profit organizations.
Fun Fact: Half of the north property boundary fronts Boggy Creek and there is a footbridge on the northeast corner.
3809 Avenue B – Baker Center – Minimum Bid: $10.6 million
Located in the Hyde Park Historic District of north central Austin between West 39th and 40th Streets, Baker Center is a 65,868-square-foot building on a 4.36-acre tract. The area average income is $80,000/year, so if this becomes a residential project it will most likely be at market rates. The main building was constructed in 1911 as a three-story school made of poured concrete and masonry. A two-story addition made of steel truss and concrete appeared in 1952. There are 81 parking spaces.
1111 West 6th Street – Carruth Administration Center – Minimum Bid: $30 million
The site sure to be of most interest, this facility is on 2.75 acres. There are five buildings totaling 134,400 square feet, an underground garage and surface parking for 401 cars. In addition to the office space, there are 13 apartment units. It is zoned as general commercial/vertical mixed use. It was built in 1991.
110 9th Street – Millett Opera House – Minimum Bid: $5.31 million
Built by Captain Charles F. Millett in 1878, the opera house was the social center of Austin in the 19th century. It has a hand-painted ceiling, 800 moveable seats, private boxes, a balcony. Located two blocks from the Capitol, this 18,000-square-foot theater is leased to The Austin Club. The lease, which expires in 2029, would be conveyed to the buyer.
Loyola Lane at U.S. Highway 183, southwest corner – Minimum Bid: $7.7 million
An ideal site for a mixed-use development, Loyola Lane is a vacant 32-acre tract that has Single Family and Commercial-Mixed Use zoning.
4806 Trail West Drive – Travis Country Land – Minimum Bid: $3.28 million
Minutes from downtown, this is a 12.5-acre tract that is lightly wooded. The neighborhood borders the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Houses in the adjacent neighborhoods range from $400,000 to $2.25 million.
5101 E. 51st Street – Service Center Land – Minimum Bid: $2.7 million
A 12-acre site with easy access to U.S. Hwy 183 and Springdale Road, it is zoned Single Family and suitable for townhouse or condominium projects.
4001 Tannehill Lane – SE of Tannehill at Jackie Robinson Street – Minimum Bid: $1.96 million
A 7.96-acre tract, it is adjacent to Norman Elementary School. The land is relatively flat and outside the floodplain. A prospect for civic or residential development.
NW corner of Doris Drive at Hathaway Drive – Minimum Bid: $920,000
A triangular 1.2-acre tract, this is vacant land suitable for a modest single family residence project. It is adjacent to Burnet Middle School.
Central Warehouse Land – Minimum Bid: $2.3 million
A 9.3-acre site located near the northeast corner of Ben White Boulevard and Congress Avenue and a half mile from Interstate 35, the Central Warehouse land is surrounded by industrial, commercial and office zoning. It is adjacent to the AISD Warehouse and Cold Storage Facility.