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Fairmont owner interested in buying Palm School

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by Jack Craver

Douglas Manchester, the owner of the Fairmont Hotel, announced Monday that he’s interested in purchasing the property surrounding Palm School, a historic building that currently houses the Travis County Health and Human Services Department but is being eyed by city leaders as a future museum dedicated to the history and culture of Mexican Americans in Austin. City Council, led by Council Member Kathie Tovo, has urged the county to allow the city to preserve and use the building for the museum, but members of the Travis County Commissioners Court, while committed to its preservation, are reluctant to relinquish control of the property for less than market value, which at least one appraisal set at $53 million. Manchester also wants to preserve the building and said in his statement that he will donate $5 million to that end; however, he also wants to redevelop the rest of the property surrounding the building, which sits next door to the Fairmont. The proposal was quickly denounced by activists involved in the push to preserve the property, who maintain the entire parcel needs to stay publicly owned. Commissioner Margaret Gómez told the Austin American-Statesman that while she had met with Manchester, she would prefer the property remain in the public domain.

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