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Austin is sued over vote to redevelop former Statesman offices

The Austin-American Statesman moved its headquarters to new offices during the pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez
KUT News
The Austin American-Statesman moved its headquarters to new offices during the pandemic.

A local organization has sued the City of Austin and council members over their handling of a plan to allow developers to build hotels, housing and restaurants along Lady Bird Lake.

The development has been referred to as the Statesman PUD, in part because the 19-acre plot is home to the former offices of the Austin American-Statesman. In December 2022, council members voted to approve a planned unit development for the site, meaning developers could build much more than allowed under current zoning rules.

Endeavor Real Estate Group planned to build nearly 1,400 apartments, 1.5 million square feet of office space and a 275-room hotel. A small fraction of the proposed housing could be set aside for people earning low incomes, although the council asked Endeavor to pay at least $23 million instead of building affordable housing on the property. The developer had also agreed to set aside land for parks and for a future light-rail station.

But in a lawsuit filed in Travis County District Court on Wednesday, the Save Our Springs Alliance alleges the city violated state law and local ordinances when it approved this plan for development. Attorney Bobby Levinski said the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act by not adequately notifying nearby residents of the extent of the changes this development would have on the area.

“This ordinance was posted as a zoning ordinance, but it does a lot more than that,” Levinski told KUT, pointing to the changes to parking and water quality standards as examples. “It’s amending various parts of the code that are beyond zoning.”

Save Our Springs has asked a local judge to void the vote on the PUD, which would make the future of this land uncertain.

“We are reviewing the lawsuit and will respond through the court process as appropriate,” City Attorney Anne Morgan said in an emailed statement. Richard Suttle, lawyer for Endeavor, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Wednesday’s lawsuit comes a month after Save Our Springs won another lawsuit over this development. In April, Travis County District Judge Jessica Mangrum ruled the city did not follow state law when it approved a plan to redistribute property tax dollars along Lady Bird Lake.

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Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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