The Texas Department of Transportation, looking to consolidate several of its Austin facilities, will pay $8.9 million for 49 acres of vacant land in Southeast Austin, assuming that the Texas Transportation Commission approves the sale this week.
The wooded land, near East Stassney Lane and Burleson Road, would become the home of about 2,200 TxDOT workers now housed in three leased buildings on East Riverside Drive, at the agency’s venerable Camp Hubbard site along North MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) at West 35th Street, and at a warehouse on Centimeter Circle, a short street in a complex of commercial buildings in North Austin.
That location is also the site of TxDOT’s print shop. In addition, TxDOT plans to move to the new site the contents of a rented warehouse on West Braker Lane.
Of the four, TxDOT owns only the 15.6-acre Camp Hubbard site. The plan, as outlined under Senate Bill 1349, legislation awaiting the governor’s signature, is for TxDOT to transfer much of that property to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. The agency would have the right under SB 1349, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, to sell any remaining pieces of Camp Hubbard to certain state financial agencies, making private development of the Central Austin land unlikely.
TxDOT would buy the Southeast Austin property using some of a $22 million appropriation in the current biennial budget, returning the rest to the state highway fund for general use by the department. James Bass, TxDOT’s executive director, said the design and site development of the Stassney property would be done under an appropriation pending in the 2018-19 budget. A conference committee over the weekend approved a budget, still awaiting House and Senate votes, that would set aside $30 million for the new campus’ development.
That would leave construction to the following two-year cycle, and yet another appropriation, meaning that employees probably won’t be stationed at the new site for as much as four years.
TxDOT rents the space on East Riverside, and its leases there are due to run out beginning in 2022, Bass said. That land, along with the nearby American-Statesman site, has been the subject of intense development interest in recent years. The Riverside and Camp Hubbard locations primarily house TxDOT statewide employees.
The TxDOT Austin district facility along Interstate 35 in Northeast Austin, which services an 11-county Central Texas network of roads, would not be affected by the consolidation, officials said. And TxDOT’s top officials would continue to operate out of the Greer Building on East 11th Street across from the Capitol.
TxDOT would purchase the Southeast Austin tract from Parcum Development, a limited liability company that bought 102.3 acres at the site in 2015, according to Travis Central Appraisal District records. TxDOT would be buying two parcels, one of which fronts on East Stassney.
There are no structures on the land at this point. Agency spokeswoman Veronica Beyer said that TxDOT has not begun design work on the facility, pending legislative approval of the appropriations request.
TxDOT would pay about $181,750 per acre for the 48.97 acres it has targeted. In an independent appraisal recently commissioned by the agency, officials said, the 49-acre site was valued at $8.53 million, or about $174,200 per acre.