At the end of the spring 2018 semester, Austin Community College closed its Pinnacle campus. The college district said the Southwest Austin facility, which historically served about 2,000 students per semester, needed significant repairs and infrastructure improvements, and that students and staff that had used the campus would be disbursed to other campuses.
In May, ACC executive vice president of finance and administration Neil Vickers told Community Impact Newspaper that selling a piece of the property was an option open to the board of trustees, but there had been no discussions about a potential sale.
Nearly a year after the campus closed, the community college district has started the process to evaluate selling the Pinnacle building and the nine acres it sits on.
The district said even if it were to make significant investments, there is little it can do to improve the building’s function for students because of the fact that the facility was initially constructed as an office complex.
On April 1, the ACC board of trustees approved the first step in the process to a potential sale, approving a resolution to declare the building as surplus property “not required for the current needs of the District for educational purposes,” and authorizing President Richard Rhodes to post the building for sale.
The board’s action does not require ACC to sell the property. It will receive bids for the property, valued at $21.9 million according to the Travis Central Approval District. Once those bids are received, the board could then evaluate its options and make a decision as to whether to accept a bid or develop a different plan for the use of the property. According to the district, any revenue from the sale would be reinvested into the development of the campus.
Vickers said after the April 1 meeting that the board still has a number of options in front of it, including keeping the 9-acre Pinnacle portion of the property and finding alternate uses for the building.
"But selling it is absolutely an option for the right price. And the only way we'll know what the price is is to put it on the market," Vickers said.
The Pinnacle building was built in 1984 as an office complex and opened in 1990 as an ACC campus after the district purchased the property. The community college district’s campus master plan, published in 2011, recommended repurposing or selling the former office complex while investing in new construction on the adjacent 46-acre portion of the property the college owns. That property next to the Pinnacle building is currently green space.
Trustee Stephanie Gharakanian asked her fellow board members to ensure community input is received as the district decides the future of the campus, and hoped the district would make it clear in its communications that ACC plans to reopen a campus on the property, even if it ultimately decides to sell the Pinnacle building.
Rhodes said the concern he has heard from the community is related to keeping a campus at the location open to students in the area, not the future of the building itself.
Vickers said the marketing process for the piece of property, which will be brokered by commercial real estate firm CBRE, could take close to a year.
"We're going to want to take our time to evaluate those (offers) and make sure it's the best value," he said.
The district's evaluation process for the bids will consider not only the dollar value, but also the intended use of the building and how that would fit with a possible future ACC campus next door.
ACC officials did not say how long they expect the Pinnacle campus to remain closed, but according to Vickers, the process to relocate students after the closure in 2018 was "relatively painless" because of the new campuses ACC is building. In 2018, the community college opened its new San Gabriel campus in Leander as well as expansions on its Round Rock, Hays and Elgin campuses.
By fall 2020, ACC expects to open a regional workforce innovation center at its Highland location as well as its renovated Rio Grande campus in downtown Austin.