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Seaholm intake takes in $450,000

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by Chad Swiatecki

The second attempt to plan for the future of Austin’s Seaholm Intake facility property got a major boost Monday with the announcement of a $450,000 contribution to fund a study that will determine how to best use the building and three acres of surrounding property. The money from the Austin Parks Foundation and Trail Foundation will pay for a study from Studio Gang, an architecture and urban design firm based in New York and Chicago that has overseen dozens of ambitious projects, mostly in Chicago and the Midwest, with contributions from Austin-based subcontractors including Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Datum Engineers, Urban Design Group, GO collaborative and Civic Collaboration. The study will include a series of public hearings and online input beginning in June ahead of a fall completion date, and it will be something of a reboot for the future of the historic facility. A 2011 feasibility study and three-year competition process among development firms to create a new plan for the site found Austin-based Stratus Properties as the favorite, but the process was terminated in early 2016 amid concerns that the new plans would downplay and threaten much of Seaholm’s historic characteristics. In a press conference Monday announcing the contribution, Mayor Steve Adler emphasized that the new study would take the site’s historic status into consideration and make it a recreational and public gathering area designed to appeal to all Austinites. “Today the intake structure and parkland represents a unique opportunity to create a vibrant recreational and publicly accessible destination,” Adler said. “The plan for this space will preserve and respect the historic significance of this underutilized structure and turn it into a genuine public asset.” Adler called the project – which includes the land between the Pfluger Bridge and Shoal Creek, and from Lady Bird Lake’s edge to Cesar Chavez Street – another possible highlight of the potential of public/private partnerships that are able transform dormant civic structures. The intake facility project will be a counterpart to the estimated $130 million mixed-use project that has turned the former Seaholm Power Plant site into a combination of office, retail and residential development, anchored by the health care technology company athenahealth Inc. There is no timeline for when work on the intake facility is expected to commence.

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