Austin’s last-minute plan to buy Bull Creek Road tract fails


An Austin City Council member’s last-ditch effort to help the city buy 75 acres of prime land in Central Austin failed Thursday.

The Texas Department of Transportation, which owns the parcel at Bull Creek Road and 45th Street, wanted to know by Friday if the city planned to purchase the land. But the city couldn’t cobble together the $28.5 million cost.

Council Member Laura Morrison suggested one final idea: asking TxDOT for more time to let the city find a private partner with which to purchase and develop the land. Only Council Member Kathie Tovo liked that idea; the council’s five other members voted against it.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell said TxDOT had told the city that it didn’t want to wait any longer to sell the land.

“It’s a waste of their time, of our time and of whoever has to draw up the necessary documentation,” Leffingwell said of Morrison’s proposal.

The next step will be for TxDOT to seek bids from private developers interested in buying the land.

Central Austin neighborhoods have feared a private developer will turn the tract into a high-density, environmentally harmful project. Owning the land would give the city more power to shape what gets built, Morrison has said.

Leffingwell said the city can still influence a private project through its zoning and land-use rules.


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