Real estate group opposes Travis County courts bond

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The Real Estate Council of Austin announced Oct. 22 that its board of directors passed a resolution opposing the Travis County bond proposition for a new civil and family courts facility in downtown Austin.

Leading up to the Nov. 3 election, two other groups have also voiced their opposition to the proposed $287.3 million bond election to build a new civil and family courts complex, or CFCC, in the proposed location on Guadalupe Street across the street from Republic Square Park.

RECA President Ward Tisdale said the proposed project would not be the best use of the designated property downtown.

“There are a variety of options [for the land use]but certainly it should be put in the hands of the private sector,” he said.

A private development could generate millions of dollars in property tax revenue, which could be used for education, transportation and other services for the community, Tisdale said.

If the bond measure is approved, it would cause a property tax increase of about $13.50 annually per $100,000 of taxable valuation for homeowners, according to the county. The courts complex would be used for civil and family courts cases such as adoptions, custody hearings and cases related to domestic violence.

Studies have been conducted since 2006 on numerous sites, including four in the downtown area, a north campus on Airport Boulevard, and the Palm School site, according to Nancy Gray, director of communications with the Austin Bar Association.

“All alternative sites were found lacking for various reasons: height restrictions, zoning restrictions, lack of public transportation, lack of space for parking, loss of opportunity for potential affordable housing, or restrictions on building around historical structures,” Gray said in an email.

RECA, a 1,750-member trade association for the commercial real estate industry, does not have a bias toward a specific alternate location, Tisdale said. The group is recommending voters oppose the current bond proposal and then have more conversations with the county about other potential locations outside downtown.

“We support the idea of a new courthouse. … The county has outgrown its facility, and so the community does need a courthouse,” Tisdale said. “It just shouldn’t be in that location.”

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Kelli joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter and has been covering Southwest Austin news since July 2012. She was promoted to editor of the Southwest Austin edition in April 2015. In addition to covering local businesses, neighborhood development, events, transportation and education, she is also the beat reporter covering the Travis County Commissioners Court.

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