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City staff recommends Trammel Crow for Green redevelopment

Friday, June 6, 2008 by Austin Monitor

City staff has recommended the team of Trammell Crow/Constructive Ventures/USAA for the redevelopment of the Green Water Treatment Site.


The Council is scheduled to pick one of the five teams bidding to do the development on June 18, the last meeting before the Council takes its summer break. Although the Council is not bound by the staff proposal, they would have to present solid reasons for selecting another bidder.


Trammell Crow beat out proposals from Stratus, Forest City, Catellus and Simmons Vedder. Stratus was ranked second among those bidding.


City Manager Marc Ott noted that city staff had met on nine separate occasions to review and assess each proposal using guiding principles and an evaluation matrix passed in February. Decommissioning of the plant is expected to start next year.


Council Member Mike Martinez praised city staff for their work.


“The staff did an amazing amount of work in a very short time to give their recommendations,” he said. “Now we (Council members) are going to have to drill down through the data and see if we agree with their choice and want to make a different one.”


According to a chart prepared by city staff, the Trammell Crow proposal was the densest with a floor-to-area-ratio of 9.8. Significant considerations included attention to public open space; mobility and connectivity enhancement; affordable housing; a contribution to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; a proactive MBE/WBE strategy; access to capital through parent company and USAA; and significant public benefits.


The project also offered strong generation of revenue to the city with limited public financing required. According to the proposal, the project will generate $7 million per year in tax revenue to the city, support 4,500 jobs and 1,000 households and provide a $200 million per year payroll.


In the category of affordability, the Trammel Crow project will devote 25 percent of its rental units to 80 percent of median family income. The team imposed a $5 per square-foot density bonus on itself, noted a commitment to senior affordable housing and agreed to help the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.


The plan also maintains the original street grid, adds a pedestrian bridge and extends Third Street. It also devotes $500,000 to Shoal Creek enhancements and proposes to complete the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike trail. Other public benefits include a public safety storefront; a voluntary $1 million bonus for Art in Public Places; endows a music program and beautification of the Austin Energy substation; and expands the boundaries of the Downtown Austin Alliance.


Stratus Properties was ranked second among the five proposers, with Forest City coming in third. All three promised a high standard of Green Building– LEED gold.


Criticism of other proposals included lower revenue generation for the city, limited information on access to capital, less affordable housing and limits in scale and articulation.

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