No Courthouse Downtown!

RECEIVED Fri., Oct. 16, 2015

Dear Editor,
    The city of Austin cannot afford another courthouse!
    I am shocked to see the Chronicle's "editorial board endorsement" for the upcoming bond election. I thought someone at the Chronicle had more sense than this. Was it unanimous?
    First of all the price tag is way to high – at $287,275,000. That land should be sold to developers that will install a higher and better use on it and contribute a substantial amount to our local tax base. That courthouse could be constructed elsewhere at a much lower cost, it does not need to be in the Downtown grid and 14 stories tall. The notion that it will cost the same to build no matter where it is located is completely false.
    Second, another courthouse in that neighborhood is a terrible addition to our city. It will be another concrete monolith with no ground floor retail that will be dark on nights and weekends. It will contribute nothing to the vibrancy and walkability of our city, it will in fact take away from it. We already have a great example of this – the federal courthouse across the street. It is the emptiest building in Downtown Austin, has taken away a ton of street-level parking (more just two weeks ago), and removed a whole block of San Antonio Street. This was a horrible addition to the city of Austin, but back in 2009, it was the best we could do. Now it is 2015, and there are much better options for a very important block in Downtown Austin.
    People come to Downtown Austin to live, work, and play. Nobody said anything about "going to court" as a draw for our city. The county needs a new courthouse, and they should have it – in the county, not in Downtown Austin. It's a terrible idea, it's a terrible addition, and it costs way too much money. Vote No!
Craig Staley
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