Key se­na­tor en­dorses de­ci­sion on build­ing

Hold­ing off 15-story head­quar­ters ‘both busi­nesslike and in­sight­ful.’

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By ralph K.m. Haurwitz rhau­r­witz@states­ Con­tact Ralph K.M. Haurwitz at 445-3604.

The chair­man of the state Se­nate’s Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee has en­dorsed the Univer­sity of Texas Sys­tem’s de­ci­sion to hold off on build­ing a new head­quar­ters in down­town Austin.

“I think it’s both busi­nesslike and in­sight­ful,” Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amar­illo, told the Amer­i­canS­tates­man on Fri­day, a day af­ter the UT Sys­tem an­nounced that it would “de­lay and re­think” the $102.4 mil­lion plan.

The UT Sys­tem over- sees 15 aca­demic and health cam­puses, in­clud­ing the flag­ship in Austin. Sys­tem em­ploy­ees cur­rently work out of a five-build­ing com­plex down­town.

Con­sol­i­dat­ing into a new, 15-story build­ing at the north­west cor­ner of West Sev­enth and Colorado streets of­fered sav­ings of $2 mil­lion to $5 mil­lion an­nu­ally in main­te­nance, se­cu­rity and other costs, of­fi­cials had said.

Seliger said he had been in touch with UT Sys­tem of­fi­cials about the project but did not press them to put it on the back burner.

“I had ex­pressed con­cerns — just that it was a lot of money to house a large group of peo­ple that are not di­rectly con­tribut­ing to the ed­u­ca­tion of young peo­ple, un­der­stand­ing of course that it is a very large and com­plex sys­tem as well and the sys­tem has a lot of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” the se­na­tor said.

The UT Sys­tem does not need leg­isla­tive ap­proval to build a new head­quar­ters. Chair­man Gene Pow­ell of the Board of Re­gents noted in a memo to fel­low re­gents that the sys­tem does need such ap­proval for its plan to merge UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan Amer­i­can into a new univer­sity in the Lower Rio Grande Val­ley that would also over­see a planned med­i­cal school.

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