Austin’s Convention Center May Expand

November 1, 2014 by Kate Harrington

The Austin Convention Center may have an expansion in its future. According to the Austin Monitor, the City’s Real Estate Services office recently sent a memo to City Council members saying “there is solid evidence for the need to expand the Convention Center.”

Based on surveys of potential and current customers and a market analysis, the City’s Long Range Master Plan for the Convention Center will likely recommend “that the Convention Center be expanded to include substantial additional exhibit, ballroom and meeting space,” the memo says.

To make that happen, the memo recommends acquiring a section of downtown land called Block 8. That property is adjacent to the Convention Center on its west side, along East Cesar Chavez. City of Austin Real Estate Services Officer Lauraine Rizer, who authored the memo, says the City sent the property’s owner a Letter of Intent asking to acquire the area.

accexpansionmap

“Given the block has frontage along East Chavez, is adjacent to the Convention Center and is unencumbered by any Capitol View Corridors, it is foreseeable that the block is ripe for more intensified development in the near future,” Rizer writes.

According to the Austin Business Journal, the Block 8 tract consists of three small buildings ranging from 4,161 square feet to 6,103 square feet.

All in all, the City would need the equivalent of three to four city blocks to accommodate the recommended growth. Since the center is bordered by properties that are part of the Waller Creek Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone and by the Hilton Hotel on its east and south sides, expansion to the west makes the most sense, the memo states.

If and when the expansion happens, it won’t be the first for the convention center. In 2002 it underwent a $110 million expansion that helped it grow several blocks.

How do you think the Convention Center should grow? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.