Travis County courts bond gets urbanist group's endorsement

The Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse is located on Guadalupe Street in Austin.

The Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse is located on Guadalupe Street in Austin.

Local grass roots urbanist group AURA on Oct. 26 announced its support of the Travis County civil and family courts complex, or CFCC, bond proposition.

With early voting underway before the Nov. 3 election, the CFCC bond calls for funds to build a new facility on Guadalupe Street in downtown Austin that would provide services for civil and family law cases such as adoptions, marriages and divorces, and cases related to domestic violence.

AURA, which launched in 2013 as Austinites for Urban Rail Action, announced in an Oct. 26 news release that it wants voters to support the courthouse in part because it will aim to provide safety for victims of domestic violence and be transit-accessible.

AURA also supports the proposed downtown location, which has been a point of contention for groups that recently announced opposition to the bond proposal such as the Real Estate Council of Austin. RECA President Ward Tisdale said the land should be placed in the hands of the private sector.

AURA said the planned south tower project adjacent to the proposed CFCC will result in “the best of both worlds,” bringing a dense private development to the site in addition to the courthouse space. AURA said Austin City Council could also expand the number of blocks in downtown or near downtown entitled for “central business district-style” development.

The courthouse proposal, which would result in an increase of about $13.50 per $100,000 of taxable valuation annually if approved, is affordable, AURA member and co-founder Julio Gonzalez Altamirano said in the news release.

“For a few bucks a month, we solve our courtroom space needs for a century," Altamirano said. "If you want to save money, this is the time to build the basics—loan rates are unlikely to stay low forever. Building now is the fiscally sensible choice.”

The current Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, which will remain the county’s main courthouse if the bond passes, was built in the 1930s.


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