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Plaza Saltillo project postponed again

Monday, December 19, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The redevelopment of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Plaza Saltillo tract is still in City Hall limbo.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday postponed a hearing on the developer’s request to rezone the project.

According to sources familiar with the case, the delay was requested by members of the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Planning Team who still have concerns about Endeavor Real Estate Group’s request to build portions of the mixed-use project taller than is otherwise legally allowed.

The postponement is the latest holdup for a project that has been caught in the bureaucratic mire for months longer than initially expected.

In March, after Capital Metro’s board of directors approved the contract with Endeavor, the company’s Jason Thumlert predicted that the project would appear before City Council by the end of the spring. However, an incomplete traffic impact analysis held the proceedings in stasis and led to four prior postponements at the Planning Commission.

On Monday evening, Bo Delp of the Workers Defense Project released to the media a letter to Council announcing that his group had dropped its opposition to Endeavor’s plans for Plaza Saltillo. Since March, the WDP had flirted with trying to block the effort over Endeavor’s refusal to adopt strict standards for construction workers on the project.

Delp said that Endeavor had agreed to other critical protections for workers in addition to other concessions the developer accepted in March, including a minimum wage of $13.03 per hour.

“While Endeavor has not met the full Better Builder standards on Plaza Saltillo, it has taken an important step towards joining developers and public institutions across central Texas that have set the standards of excellence and committed to the Better Builder Program,” Delp wrote. “We hope this trend continues.”

The WDP’s decision appeared to clear the way for Plaza Saltillo’s approval on Tuesday until the neighborhood planning team’s request for the delay.

Planning Commission Chair Stephen Oliver told the Austin Monitor that the item would be rescheduled for the body’s next meeting in January.

The neighborhood group’s chair, José Valera, did not respond to a request for comment on this story. However, Michele Haussmann of Land Use Solutions, a consulting firm representing Endeavor, expressed optimism that the developer could address the group’s concerns and still get the project going as soon as possible.

“Our team looks forward to additional meetings with the neighborhood group before the Jan. 10 Planning Commission meeting,” Haussmann said.

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