Travis County commissioners approve restrictive covenants for Palm School site

County staff speak to commissioners about a set of restrictive covenants that will govern the Palm School site.

County staff speak to commissioners about a set of restrictive covenants that will govern the Palm School site.

After months of development and soliciting public input, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to approve a set of restrictive covenants—essentially guidelines for future use that will apply regardless of who ultimately owns the property—that will apply to the Palm School site in downtown Austin.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents Precinct 3, opposed at the Oct. 29 meeting.

Residents urged commissioners to preserve public ownership of the Palm School site—established in 1892, it housed an elementary school that served predominantly Latino students for over 130 years—and not allow any new development to occur on it.

In response, commissioners stressed that the county does not have the funds to convert the site into a museum or cultural center or to maintain it as such.

“I think that the clear majority of the Commissioners Court feels that this document strikes an appropriate balance,” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said, pointing out in particular terms that require any development on the site “to maintain visual, programmatic and functional connection for Palm Park and Palm School.”

Daugherty raised concerns that restrictive covenants would limit the resale value of the property, which the Travis Central Appraisal District appraised at $53 million—factoring in the restrictions—earlier this year.

“Without question, the more hoops that you have to jump through to even consider buying, doing anything with this project, greatly impacts the value,” he said.


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