AISD Taking Offers on Underused Properties
Four buildings plus 75 acres up for new uses
By Richard Whittaker,
4:15PM, Mon. Oct. 3, 2016
Want to buy the Austin Club? Austin ISD has just formally started accepting bids to buy, lease, or find alternate uses for 10 properties it owns around Austin, from unused land to local landmarks.
Today, the district issued requests for proposal on the locations around Austin. The plan to move ahead with bids and offers was actually made in March. That decision sprung from a 2015 report from the Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee, which found 10 properties it classified as surplus to the district's needs.
• Carruth Administration Center, 1111 W. Sixth
• Allan Early Childhood Center, 4900 Gonzalez
• Baker Center, 3908 Ave. B
• Millett Opera House, 110 E. Ninth
• 9.318 acres at Alpine Road (next to AISD Central Warehouse)
• 1.234 acres at Doris and Hathaway (opposite Burnet Middle School)
• 31.987 acres at US Hwy 183 and Loyola
• 12 acres at E. 51st Street (next to AISD Service Center)
• 7.96 acres at Tannehill Lane and Jackie Robinson Street
• 12.496 acres at 4806 Trail West Drive
The district has announced a pre-bid conference at the Allan Early Childhood Center cafeteria at 9am, Oct. 18, with property tours scheduled for Oct. 20, and a submission deadline of 2pm, Dec. 14 (full details on the properties at austinisd.org).
The property list represents a series of sites that have ended up on the district's books, and are either purely excess land, or don't fit in with the district's current needs. Most notable, and most likely to trigger serious debate, may be the four buildings. The Baker Center was built as a middle school, but now provides career development for AISD staff. However, it's an aging building, expensive to maintain, and generally underutilized. The Allan Center is the former Allan Elementary, which AISD closed as a campus after the failed partnership with IDEA Public Schools, and is now home to a series of non-profits. As for how the Millett, now home to the Austin Club, ended up on the district's books, no one is quite clear.
It's not abnormal for an entity like AISD to end up with excess property. Both Baker and Carruth were highlighted by the 2011 Facility Master Plan task force as surplus to current needs (Baker due to its age and the lack of students in the area; Carruth for its suitability and location), while the extra space by the service center and central warehouse is just spare land the district does not need.
The FMP does not mean the district is selling these properties: When the discussion first began last year, the Allan Center was used as a case study in how these buildings may find alternative uses while staying on the AISD portfolio.
As for Carruth, the district briefly put the central administration building on the market in 2011, with an asking price of $32 million. The board then pulled the sale, at the request of then-Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, as she argued that the administration needed it as a central office. (Proving the universe has a sense of humor, five minutes after that vote the board room ceiling started leaking.)
However, that doesn't mean some of these sites won't end up on the open market. After all, the district is sat on 75 acres of unused land, the revenue from which could help cover a lot of investment and infrastructure costs.