county may buy downtown office building
more space needed even after June purchase, officials say
Travis County is considering leasing or purchasing a proposed $38.5 million administration building and parking garage across from the county courthouse downtown.
Less than a month ago, the county completed a purchase of 700 Lavaca St. — a 15-story downtown office building — and an adjoining parking garage. The Commissioners Court and other offices will move into the building.
Even after that purchase, officials say the county is short on office space and parking downtown and that space needs will only grow. The county is currently drafting its “Central Campus” master plan, a broad effort to study how the county should expand downtown during the next 25 years to keep pace with the county’s population, now more than 1 million, according to recent U.S. Census
Continued from B1 estimates.
Under the proposal, the county would have the option to purchase the new building at 408 W. 11th St. any time during a 30-year lease, Development 2000 Inc. President Jerry Reed told commissioners at a recent meeting. If the county doesn’t buy the building by the end of the lease, Reed told commissioners, the building would be given to the county as a gift.
If the county decides to buy the building, the county would issue bonds to pay for it, County Judge Sam Biscoe said. It would take two to three years to design and construct the building and garage, so Biscoe said county officials wouldn’t have to decide immediately how the county would pay for the project. The price of the project, as well as the size of the building and garage, are negotiable, he said. So far, excluding a little staff time, no county money has been spent on the proposal, he said.
Development 2000’s proposal to the county is detailed in documents the American-Statesman obtained through an open records request.
County officials agreed the property would be too small for a much-needed new civil courthouse, but Biscoe said the building could house criminal law sections of the county attorney’s and district attorney’s offices. The current location of the district attorney’s office in the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center was never intended to be permanent, Biscoe said. The county plans to convert those offices to criminal courts, Biscoe said. Based