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City Council Recap: Downtown Land Deal, Animal Center Items Approved

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Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin City Council voted unanimously late last night to sell the largest city owned plot of undeveloped land downtown – the former Green Water Treatment Plant site west of the Second Street District, along Cesar Chavez Street. 

Developer Trammell Crow is buying the downtown plot for over $42 million dollars, with plans to build 826 apartments, 200 hotel rooms, retail and more.

The deal requires Trammell Crow to make 10 percent of the apartments affordable to people who make 80 percent of the median family income. The units will remain affordable for much longer than an initially-proposed seven-year term, which the council heard in April before postponing the sale. There will also be some requirements for construction worker pay and safety.

“We’ve seen this development really evolve since our first briefing on it last month,” said council member Kathie Tovo. “The affordable housing provisions that are now in the [master development agreement] and the Workers Defense items have really brought it to a better place and I think that’s the result of all of the public testimony that we’ve received and the input from council.”

Council members also agreed to allocate more than $20 million for infrastructure improvements at the Seaholm development district right next door to the site.

An agreement allowing non-profit Austin Pets Alive to move into the city’s former Town Lake Animal Center also passed, with some amendments.

Several speakers were on hand from Travis County Animal Advocates, a collection of animal rescue groups who voiced some concerns about ceding the former city shelter to the group.

The amendments seemed to placate their worries.  Kennels would be reserved for the rescue groups, and Austin Pets Alive would be allowed to only take animals from the five-county Central Texas region. Monthly reports to the city would be required, with the city reserving the right to tweak the requirements if it felt sufficient information was not being shared. And although the parties inked a three-year agreement, either party could terminate the agreement with 90-days notice.

“I have every confidence that the community we see here today will continue to stay involved and committed to the cause,” council member Chris Riley told the crowd, “and will help us to continue to be a no kill model for the entire country.” 

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