City may toss valuable piece of East Austin to private sector
Jun 17, 2014
Austin Business Journal
A valuable piece of city-owned East Austin property used to host arts and culture events for the past decade could become available for purchase soon.
The lease renewal for the property – a 17,000-square-foot lot on East 11 th Street adjacent to the Victory Grill and known as Kenny Dorham’s Backyard – will be up for review at Monday night’s Urban Renewal Board meeting.
The action on the lease has come about because the city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development department determined that the lot’s tenant, DiverseArts Culture Works, has fallen out of compliance with its license agreement with the city for failing to maintain the property, not processing event permits in a timely manner and not reporting income from events.
The city purchased the property with federal money and has licensed the property to DiverseArts since 2005 as a site to host music festivals and other arts activities aimed at the city’s African-American community.
Gina Copic, the real estate development manager for the department, said all of the city-owned property along 11 th and 12 th streets has been designated for private development and the development strategy for the “Block 18” property allows for a mix of business uses on the front side and residential on the rear.
Copic said an appraisal has not been done on Block 18 but a nearby 4,000-square-foot lot recently sold for about $5 a square foot. If those values hold, then Block 18, at 17,544 square feet, could fetch more than $800,000. The city has not started taking formal bids on the property since the lease with DiverseArts is still undecided but Copic said there have been multiple unsolicited offers.
Property values in East Austin are rising at a fast clip. An Austin Business Journal examination of U.S. Census data on median single-home values in Central Texas shows just how dramatic those changes have been for the neighborhoods east of I-35.