Actually There Are Three Independent Business Groups

RECEIVED Tue., Dec. 12, 2006

Dear Editor,
    In a sidebar last week titled “Choose Austin First” [“Ho-Ho-Homegrown Holidays,” News, Dec. 8], your author wrote, “Oddly enough, Austin has two different indie-biz groups,” referring to the Austin Independent Business Alliance and Choose Austin First. I’d like to correct that and add Austin Unique to the list. Unlike AIBA, Austin Unique does not have the financial backing of the creepiest corporate land baron in Austin – Stratus Properties (formerly Freeport-McMoRan).
    As you know, Stratus Properties is the company that sold land to Advanced Micro Devices on Southwest Parkway, where AMD employees will soon bring approximately 2.2 million car trips over the aquifer every year (a modest estimate, based on AMD’s own assumption that their 2,550 employees will create approximately 9,370 daily car trips collectively and then multiplied by 240 work days).
    Stratus Properties owns thousands of acres over the contributing and recharge zones of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer, including the 650 acres upstream from Barton Creek and Sycamore Creek that are slated for massive residential and commercial development, including a golf course.
    Stratus Properties is the majority owner of the Downtown development of the W Hotel, luxury condos, the new Children’s Museum, and the new Austin City Limits studio that will be right next door to City Hall. Bellhops in bow ties will open car doors for business executives staying at the W. Beloved musicians will grace the ACL stage there. Parents will make regular treks with their kids to the museum. Stratus Properties will own a veritable hub of Austin cultural, residential, and commercial life.
    Jim Bob Moffett and Freeport McMoRan, the company Austin citizens ran out of City Hall in 1990, have successfully morphed into Stratus Properties, proprietor of “local” culture. Meanwhile, their developments in the vast watershed that feeds the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer will virtually seal the fate of Barton Springs. Will their Downtown development cast a shadow on our City Hall? Will we all get out from behind our computers and take it back?
Susanne Mason
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