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Colony Park marches forward

Thursday, August 31, 2017 by Jack Craver

The city’s Economic Development Department is about to begin the process of selecting a master developer of Colony Park, a proposed development in Northeast Austin that has been in the works for more than five years and was spurred by a $3 million grant from the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Sustainable Communities Challenge. The plan is for the 208 acres of city-owned land to include 3,000 housing units, 20 percent of which will be income-restricted and only available to those making below certain income levels. It will also include nearly a million square feet of commercial property. The city is about to kick off a national marketing campaign to attract developers interested in taking on the project. The first phase will be a request for qualifications, to which developers will submit applications to showcase their ability to take on the project. The city will pick a shortlist of qualified applicants, who will then be asked to submit detailed project proposals. Staff expects City Council to vote to approve a master developer by next summer. Council Member Ora Houston, in whose district the development will be located, signaled her excitement, saying that the project will be “a jewel in the eastern crescent.” Council Member Pio Renteria also said the project was a great opportunity but warned city staff to be as transparent about its dealing with the developer as possible and keep the community abreast of changes. “These kind of cases can blow up on you,” he said, if citizens feel excluded.

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