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What is Alamo Drafthouse going to do with AISD property in Hyde Park?

Friday, December 1, 2017 by Claire McInerny, KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s board of trustees voted this week to sell property in the Hyde Park neighborhood to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for $10.6 million.

The Baker Center is in a former school building at 3908 Avenue B, which the district uses for administrative purposes. But what will it be going forward?

The Alamo Drafthouse didn’t want to comment for this story, and the contract isn’t finalized yet, so we can’t see the deal. But over the last few months, the Alamo met with people in the neighborhood to discuss plans.

“My understanding is that a large portion of it would be their corporate headquarters and the headquarters for all their subsidiaries,” said Reid Long, co-president of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.

Long met with the Alamo’s architect about potential plans. Based on these conversations, he said he expects the school building to be preserved.

“The format of the main building that is currently there would be retained,” he said. “Some of the interior would be remodeled.”

In its bid for the property, the Alamo said it would build some housing on the land; it committed to making a quarter of that affordable. Long said the details about the housing aren’t clear yet.

Teresa Griffin, a board member of the neighborhood group Friends of Hyde Park, said her organization wants to see the space used for affordable, smaller housing.

“Some of the other proposals (submitted to AISD) were to fill (the property) with big houses that would go for a million-plus dollars,” Griffin said. “That’s not really what we’re looking for. The more people we can fit on the site, the better.”

When deciding to sell its land, the district said it wouldn’t just choose proposals that offered the most money; it would also look at proposals that contributed to the community. Griffin said she and her Hyde Park neighbors trust the Alamo will do that.

She said the Alamo Drafthouse seemed like it would be “a solid member of the community.”

“I think there’s more trust in that organization than in some of the developer organizations that made proposals,” she said.

For the affordable housing on the property, the Alamo said it would give preference to AISD families and staff members.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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