Travis County Chooses Developer for Prime Downtown Site

July 17, 2017 by Kate Harrington

A much-coveted downtown site that Travis County had once proposed using for a civil courthouse will be redeveloped into a vertical, mixed-use center.

County officials announced a 99-year ground lease for 308 Guadalupe that is expected to yield nearly $430 million in lease payments to Travis County, which is retaining ownership of the site.

The partnership redeveloping the land includes Phoenix Property Co. and Lincoln Property Co. The County sought proposals that maximize value for the 77,215-square-foot site, which could potentially be developed to a 25:1 floor to area ratio (FAR) based on the City of Austin’s density bonus program, said a release from CBRE, which represented the Travis County Commissioners Court in the solicitation process and transaction negotiations.

The development partners plan to incorporate a mix of office, residential, retail, and parking into the redevelopment, with about 10 percent of the housing set aside from low- and moderate-income residents.

Lincoln and Phoenix have also said they plan a “major donation” to the Austin Parks Foundation to help with the restoration of nearby Republic Square Park, the Austin Business Journal reported.

“It’s a win-win scenario for the County and for its residents—the transaction provides substantial monetization value to the County, while generating long-term tax revenue that can be used for County services needed by our community,” said Jerry Frey, Senior Vice President, CBRE.

When Travis County purchased the site – one of the few large sites in the Central Business District that is undeveloped and not restricted by the Capitol view corridor – Commissioners had hoped to build a new civil courthouse there. In 2015 a $287 million bond proposal for a new courthouse went before voters, who rejected it.

“We listened to the community when they told us that this downtown block was an asset that should be available for private development,” said Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. “By establishing a smart, competitive procurement process, we are unlocking the potential of this block to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to Travis County and its taxpayers.”

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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.