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Austin ISD Sells Bulk Of Its Surplus Property

Austin ISD Sells Bulk Of Its Surplus Property
Baker Center Aerial

The Austin Independent School District appears to be on track to clear an estimated $60M by unloading eight parcels of excess land, including the district’s current headquarters.

Trustees put the parcels on the market 14 months ago. The board approved the sale of the Baker Center in Hyde Park to Alamo Drafthouse for $10.6M and the Carruth Administration Building to Schlosser Development Corp. for $36.5M on Monday night.

The fact Alamo proposed a minimum bid on the property was a source of some contention with other bidders this fall. As was the case with all properties sold by the district, Alamo also signed a covenant to make a quarter of the single-family housing on the Baker site affordable and to “affirmatively market” the property to Austin ISD employees.

"We consistently hear that affordability is an obstacle for families looking to remain in AISD," Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley Johnson said in a statement. "The contracts we are looking to execute require the developer to provide 25% affordable housing units.”

Southfield office building
Austin ISD HQ
Southfield office building

Just how affordable that housing will be remains to be determined, AISD board President Kendall Pace said after Monday's meeting. Current salaries would price most teachers out of the Austin standard of affordable housing. Pace said she still hopes, as schools are consolidated, to free up property to be sold and devoted to school personnel, often referred to as teacherages.

In other approved sales, the city picked up property on Doris Drive and Tannehill Lane, a total of nine acres, for $2.9M. This land, too, has an affordable housing covenant. The Millett Opera House, which operates as the Austin Club, was deeded to a foundation to preserve the building, at $3M. The price was exceptionally low because of the limited reuse options for the building, which was purchased by the school district in 1950.

The board also agreed to purchase the Southfield building, on Interstate 35 at Ben White Boulevard. The nine-story building will allow the school district to consolidate its personnel in one building.

Two additional surplus properties were sold earlier in the summer to RSI Communities Inc. for $11.8M. RSI Communities has invested $100M to purchase land in the Austin and San Antonio communities, a total of 4,200 lots.