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Urban Renewal Board agrees to MOU extension with city

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 by Elizabeth Pagano

Without discussion Monday night, the Board of Commissioners of the city’s Urban Renewal Agency opted to extend an interim Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the agency and the city of Austin for six more months, until September 20, 2011. The board voted unanimously in favor of the extension.


The MOU was adopted this past October, replacing a previous tri-party agreement between the Urban Renewal Agency, the Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA), and the city of Austin. It was intended to be a temporary measure reaffirming the cooperative efforts between the city and the Urban Renewal Agency to complete the Urban Renewal Plan. By adopting the memorandum, the city and agency bought more time to discuss a long-term arrangement that would not include the ARA.


The Urban Renewal Board and the city evidently failed to come to a permanent agreement, however. According to the terms of the MOU, this six-month extension is the sole extension available to the parties. A spokesperson for the city told In Fact Daily that the extension did not require city or Council approval.


The board was also quiet about the status of the 11th and 12th Streets Community Redevelopment Project.


Staff was prohibited from discussing plans for an upcoming market study that will determine what type of development might succeed in the corridor, although they were able to tell the board that they were in the “final stages of awarding the contract.” Bids for the project are due today.


Residents of the area and the city have spent time writing and rewriting detailed land-use plans and are unlikely to relinquish their position as vocal stakeholders. The sole citizen communication at the Urban Renewal Board meeting came from an individual who implored the board to consider previously drafted plans as they move forward.


Board Chair Ben M. Sifuentes wanted to know who will be paying for the market study contract. “Where does the money come from, is what I want to know,” he said. “Who pays for it? It’s not free, so somebody has to pay.”


The contract will be with the city, although at the time of the meeting it was unclear what the exact source of funds would be.


When the board meets next week, they may hear a proposal for parking at 11th and Curve Streets, where congestion near the recently opened Franklin Barbecue stands as proof that development on the east side marches on.

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