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Del Valle School Board endorses Villa Muse project

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 by Jacob Cottingham

The Del Valle ISD Board of Trustees last night unanimously endorsed the proposed Villa Muse project, passing a resolution urging the City of Austin and Travis County to “proceed with agreements necessary,” to allow the development—including release of the project’s site from the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.


The resolution cites the “additional $3 billion to the tax rolls of the district,” the projected jobs that would be added to the community and the potential for partnership with the developers in the “design, construction and financing of future Del Valle schools.” The board approved the resolution after hearing a presentation from Villa Muse financial consultant Hiten Patel outlining plans for mixed-use development geared toward new media.


Villa Muse would occupy 1,100 acres of land four miles east of Austin and two miles east of US 183 South. Patel said it would generate 1,000 permanent studio jobs and would eventually house 9,000 residents. In his presentation, Patel highlighted the $6.5 – $20.2 billion impact the development could have on the community. Patel – judging his audience appropriately – stuck to his educational talking points, and pointed out the addition of two elementary schools and one 6-12 magnet school. He also suggested potential partnerships in mentoring and internships.


Patel also discussed the economic impact of the film industry in the state and provided some conceptual details about the flood plain. Saying that the parcel was “valueless land to the City of Austin,” he claimed that the flood plain was such that there was “no impetus for anyone to develop this.” Patel went on to explain how Villa Muse would do exactly that through a trough-based reclamation plan approved by FEMA.


The only concerns raised by the board were in relation to the proposed magnet school, and the effect that may have on potential future residents voting for bonds to benefit the rest of the district. The board asked other details about the school were questioned, but Patel essentially assured them that the developer “is not in the education business” and would be open to a wide range of potential partnerships.  


Superintendent Bernard Blanchard told In Fact Daily the proposal is a “win-win for kids, the students, the tax base and potential job growth.” School Board President Richard Vasquez gave the project equally high marks, citing the potential for partnership between Villa Muse and the school district that could open up opportunities to the students. He told In Fact Daily that the proposal appears “beneficial to the school district, Austin and the region of Central Texas.”


Before making the resolution official, the school board asked the seven Villa Muse representatives if there was anything else that could be added to the recommendation. The development team then asked for insertion of the language recommending that Travis County proceed with agreements on the project. After the vote, Patel said, “They’re clearly a big stakeholder in what we’re going to do, so we’re happy.”  Villa Muse CEO Jay Podolnick concurred.

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