City leaders may push to develop yet another site in Central East Austin

Jun 25, 2014
Austin Business Journal

Austin City Council is considering turning a city-owned, East Austin parcel just a few blocks east of the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station into Austin's next transit-oriented housing hub


The site, at 411 Chicon St. and across Fourth Street from the Oswaldo A.B. Cantu/ Pan American Recreation Center, consists of 5.18 acres the city currently uses for a warehouse, offices and vehicle parking. If Council passes a resolution at its June 26 meeting, the city could move to develop the site in a way similar to the contest that just concluded for the 11-acre Plaza Saltillo redevelopment just blocks to the east, though the city is keeping all options open at this point


The 411 Chicon site is already zoned for transit-oriented and mixed-use development. A 2008 study of the property — which was written for a much different real estate market, so take these numbers with a grain of salt — found the location could house as many as 270 units with a structured parking garage. The report suggested the site could be developed into affordable housing using a federal tax credit where the units would remain affordable for 50 years


The report also suggested that a project would take about a $13 million investment from the city to ready the site for development. The figure includes $11.8 million for the acquisition of new site to house the services currently at 411 Chicon and for demolition and smaller sums such as for dedication maintenance of a park that would be expected to be a one to two acre part of the project


Realistically, a project built on the site today would likely not be built to the maximum possible density. The site sits within several overlapping neighborhood group boundaries and would likely be developed in concert with the groups


Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has sponsored the idea and Council members Kathie Tovo and Chris Riley have sponsored the resolution. It's likely it will pass


"Neighborhood leaders and other stakeholders have been seeking an improved use of this city-owned property for some time. This land currently consists of hundreds of rarely-used surface parking spaces and some warehouses," Cole said in an emailed statement. "With incredible demand for housing and other uses in the Saltillo TOD, I am pleased to bring this resolution which requests the city manager to convene community meetings to discuss responsive ideas for this four acres of land.”


The draft resolution on City Council's agenda calls the site "one of the most underused parcels of land the city of Austin owns," and suggests the site could be sold and redeveloped into a mixed-use residence with affordable living units of varying sizes. The city has yet to outline an exact process for the sale or the development of the spot



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