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Council to consider release of Villa Muse from ETJ

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Three Council members are asking their colleagues to allow the release of 1900 acres in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction so that developers of Villa Muse Studio can build their project in eastern Travis County.


Council Members Brewster McCracken, Mike Martinez and Sheryl Cole are co-sponsoring a resolution to release the land from city taxes and regulations for a 40-year period—provided the developers comply with a strict timeline, including beginning construction by the end of 2011 and generation of revenue by the end of 2015.


Villa Muse Holdings LLC proposes to build multimedia, entertainment production and post-production facilities in an area McCracken calls “a hay field in the flood plain.” He adds, “If this project succeeds it will be a major catalyst for film and digital media in the area for generations. If it fails we’ll be in the same place we left off.”


The Council earlier this year called for discussions with the developers on ways that the project could be built without the release of the site from the ETJ. However, Villa Muse’s developers have said it would not be economically viable unless it is released from the ETJ.


If the city agrees to the release and the studios are built according to plan, the acreage would return to city control after 40 years. If not, the land would return to the city’s ETJ. The Village of Webberville has agreed not to try to take the property into its ETJ if Austin releases it.


McCracken said he was especially impressed with the financial team, planners and investors associated with the project.


Council Member Jennifer Kim said she supports the idea of having such a project in the area but wants to make sure city staff has presented information to Villa Muse “that they may not have considered that would allow them to do their project and stay in our ETJ. I’d like to be able to have the staff have that discussion with them.”


Villa Muse’s representatives have said that this Thursday is their deadline for hearing an answer from the city on its request for an ETJ release. A public hearing on the item is scheduled for 6pm.

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