A 'for sale' sign may be going up at the headquarters for the Austin school district. Several other properties may also be on the block.
Before Austin ISD bought a site for its headquarters on 6th street it was to be a small mixed use shopping and residential village. Now nearly 3 decades later Brad Fortney, who has a store across the street, is hoping new ownership will bring back the original vision.
"We just want more people to have reason to come to this area,” said Fortney.
The ISD headquarters is one of 10 sites the school board may put up for sale. Other locations include the old Baker School in Hyde Park which is now a professional development center. Allen Elementary which is leased out to non-profits. There are also vacant lots next to warehouses in south and east Austin, as well as along Hwy 183 & Loyola. The most prominent location is the old Millett Opera House. The Austin Club has rented the historic downtown building since the 1970's.
According to some estimates the properties may be worth about $100 million. The school board is trying to decide if they can cash in for one big windfall or find a way to keep the money rolling in.
"it's not about us selling all the assets, so let's rethink, let’s rethink,” said Board president Kendall Pace.
Rethinking, explained Pace, could simply involve renegotiating lease agreements or repurposing existing buildings
"And we don't really know what we can do if you talk about 100 million here maybe somebody comes back and says you know we like this property you can lease it for a dollar of the year on a quarter of the space and we have a 15 story building who knows we don't know,” said Pace.
One of the options named in a draft resolution is a public/private partnership that sets aside affordable housing units for district employees. Pace made it clear nothing is off the table including doing nothing.
"Are there places that we can swap facilities again we don't know we don't know what we're going to get better nothing may come back that's economical or interesting or innovative or useful for us then we're back to where we started,” said Pace.
Monday the board is expected to take that first big step. A real estate consultant will be hired to start an evaluation process and staff will start drafting up request for proposals.