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CapMetro seeks new Pine Street Station owner

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 by Audrey McGlinchy, KUT

Members of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted Monday to speed up the search for a new owner for Pine Street Station.

The board waived the two mandatory 30-day periods during which the agency has to make the item it is trying to sell — be it a bus, a computer or, in this case, an oil and gas refinery turned art studio — available to local governments within its transit service area. These qualifying towns, spanning from Leander to Manor, have 30 days to purchase or pass on the building.

If these governments decide not to bid, the item then becomes available for another 30 days to nearby governing bodies outside the limits of Capital Metro’s service map. If after this 30-day sale the property still has no buyer, it becomes available to the public.

Capital Metro board member and chief counsel Kerri Butcher said that because the property is one-of-a-kind and will be moved to another location just along the Saltillo Rail Line, the agency should offer it to the greatest number of people as quickly as possible.

“There are very limited suitable locations for the relocation of this building, and therefore we’d like to move forward without the 60-day notice to governmental entities,” said Butcher.

The site at 414 Waller St. will become part of Capital Metro’s 11-acre Plaza Saltillo project. Board and City Council Member Ann Kitchen asked if the reason behind hastening the process was so the agency could move the building before that 60-day window.

Butcher said no, that the timeline to move the building extends beyond the next two months.

“It is not that it needs to be moved sooner than 60 days,” Butcher said. “It’s that we have to begin the process to offer it to others.”

The deadline, a Capital Metro representative explained, depends on the developer, the Endeavor Real Estate Group. He said the need to move the property could come as soon as 2015, but that the group has signed no agreement and still needs to obtain permits.

And while the Capital Metro Board expedited the purchasing process with an almost unanimous vote (board and City Council Member Delia Garza abstained), the building’s historic landmark status remains to be settled. The Historic Landmark Commission last month voted to grant the building historic landmark status, but not the land it sits on — a resolution Capital Metro supports.

That recommendation will head to the Planning Commission before Council makes a final decision. Butcher said although Capital Metro is looking to move the building, Pine Street Station’s new home will not be far from its current one.

“We will be looking to move this building to another suitable location along the rail line,” she said.

Image courtesy of the City of Austin

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