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Top Morning Stories April 8, 2011

Austin Community College has reached a preliminary deal to buy more land at the Highland Mall site.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News
Austin Community College has reached a preliminary deal to buy more land at the Highland Mall site.

ACC Buying More of Highland Mall

Austin Community College has announced that is under contract to buy 32 acres of land underneath the beleaguered Highland Mall.  The price tag is $14.6 million.  ACC has already bought the Dillard's and Macy’s spaces.  This latest deal is expected to close in mid-May.  If the deal is finalized, ACC would own about 80 percent of the Highland Mall site. 

From ACC's statement:

“ACC is experiencing tremendous growth, currently increasing by more than 4,000 students annually. That’s like adding an entire small college each year,” says Dr. Stephen B. Kinslow, ACC president/CEO. “With more than 45,000 credit students this semester, we already have great need to expand our infrastructure. These Highland acquisitions will play a key role in allowing us to continue meeting the vast educational and training needs of the region.”   

Pickens Selling Panhandle Water

Billionaire T.  Boone Pickens has reached a tentative deal to sell most of his water rights in the Panhandle to a water authority in that region.  The news has calmed worries there that Pickens would sell the water downstate.  ConnectAmarillo.comreports the Amarillo-based Canadian River Municipal Water Authority would buy 211,000 surface acres of water rights in Roberts County from Pickens and his Mesa Water LP for about $103 million.

Give Your Feedback on Austin's Proposed Urban Rail

The City of Austin is holding the last of three open house meetingsthis month Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm at the Ruiz Branch Library.  The urban rail line would eventually run from the Mueller neighborhood, through downtown, down to the airport.  The city has started the environmental impact review process.

The project is estimated at $1.3 billion, which the city plans to pay for through a series of bond packages, one of which is expected to go before voters next year.  The city also hopes to secure some federal funding for urban rail.