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Commissioners look at offsetting proposed courthouse costs

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County commissioners voted on Tuesday to conduct a six-figure study that could help sell the nearly $300 million Civil and Family Courts Complex proposal to voters this November. If approved, two new towers would go up in downtown Austin at Fourth and Guadalupe streets just across from Republic Square Park. One tower would house the courtrooms, while the second would eventually be used for administrative offices. However, there is interest in building the second tower and leasing it to private companies for an extended period to help cover the estimated $292 million cost of the project. On Tuesday, the commissioners decided to adjust the contract with the engineering firm AECOM and ask the company to investigate exactly how much money could be generated by such a deal. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said she wants the information so that “if we negotiate with a private partner to develop that second block, we negotiate the best possible deal for the taxpayer in offsetting the 20-year costs of the Civil and Family Courts Complex while also preserving our maximum utility in that block for 50 years, 70 years or 100 years.” The $108,000 study will take up to eight weeks to complete.

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