Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said during a Commissioners Court meeting that the court intends to take legal action against the city if it moves forward with the action at its scheduled June 10 meeting.
Gravell directed staff to include the lawsuit for consideration by the court at its next meeting June 15. He also directed the court’s legal staff to prepare all the documents necessary to move forward with the lawsuit, pending court approval.
“Mr. Mayor [Steve Adler], if you choose to continue to go down this path, you are forcing Williamson County to do something and to hold you accountable,” Gravell said.
The hotel at the center of the debate—Candlewood Suites—is located in Northwest Austin within Austin city limits and in Williamson County. According to the city agenda, “the acquisition of the property will serve a public purpose by providing 40 units to be used for shelter, housing or related social services.”
It is located at 10811 Pecan Park Blvd., near RM 620. The city plans to purchase the 83-room hotel for $9.55 million with renovations for a total of approximately $11.2 million, according to the city’s agenda.
County officials said they were never notified about the project and raised concerns over its potential impact on resources and services. Williamson County commissioners officially asked the city to postpone the purchase to allow for stakeholder input and the completion of an impact study. The city moved forward.
A spokesperson for the city of Austin previously said the city contacted Commissioner Cynthia Long's office Feb. 1 to discuss the project. District 6 City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, whose district surrounds the hotel, said she sat in on a Feb. 1 meeting with Long and the city's new homelessness strategy officer, Dianna Grey, regarding the purchase. The city spokesperson said the city would not typically consult Williamson County commissioners on every purchase the city makes in the county.
The county also attempted to make it a law during the 87th legislative session that cities had to seek county approval on certain proposed purchases or conversions of properties to house homeless individuals. That bill died in committee, according to the Texas Legislature records.
“Again, I want to say to the mayor of Austin—do not mess with Williamson County,” Gravell said.
Austin's City Council June 10 meeting is its last before it recesses for summer break.