UPDATE: Back in 2015, developer, Austin Stowell bought the property where the "Montopolis School for Negro Children" is located. He got a lot of backlash from the community after trying to rezone the land for development. Austin City Council now has directed the city manager to negotiate buying and restoring the school, ultimately using it as a museum to attract tourists.
People who live in the Montopolis neighborhood are calling this a victory.
The developer, Austin Stowell says the next step is the appraisal process.
If the purchase goes through the city will preserve the building, using money from hotel occupancy taxes.
Montopolis Negro School’s future has been a point of controversy for many years. City Council is now making an offer that could potentially save it.
The council has made an offer to buy the property from the developer, who bought it more than two years ago. They hope to preserve it and possibly turn it into a museum.
The school has been vacant since the late 80s, after running from 1935 to 1962. Developer Austin Stowell bought the land a couple of years ago, and has been surrounded in controversy ever since. He says the property would be great for office space or public/private event space. However, many community members don't want any kind of commercial use.
The Austin City council will take up the issue during next week's regular meeting. If approved, members will allow the city manager to negotiate buying the property and use hotel taxes to restore the building and possibly turn it into a museum, which is what the neighborhood wants.
Mayor Steve Adler reacted to the news on Facebook.
"Our history as a community is important, and as we increasingly lose historic spaces, we don't get those back,” the mayor wrote. “I think it's important to preserve the visual places for our cities, which is why I have a resolution on next week's council agenda to buy the Montopolis Negro School."
Three items are on next week's city council agenda regarding the school's future. Stowell hopes council will work with him on a solution.