Naked City

Off the Desk

The Hyde Park Baptist Church has dubbed its mega expansion project "Forward Forever," but area neighbors have another name for it -- one that's best left unsaid. Truth be told, a decade-old, legally binding agreement between the church and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Assn. pretty much leaves the neighbors hamstrung in the face of a planned 40,000-sq.ft. educational center at 39th and Speedway, and an expanded parking garage between Speedway and Avenue D. Says NA co-p resident Ann Graham: "We feel a little powerless to try and find a way to make changes" to the project. She says neither the size nor the design of the ed center are compatible with the old homes in the neighborhood, but "we need to keep hashing this out and try to productively harness the anger in the neighborhood." Church rep Bob Liverman says his group has been meeting with HPNA in good faith for the past year, and will continue to keep the communication lines open. Next up: On Sept. 19 the church will host "Information Sunday" to lay out more details on the $18 million expansion that promises to stretch from Hyde Park to northwest Austin...

There's no chance now of Tivoli, the Austin-based software company, moving into one of the big office buildings planned for downtown, but that's not for lack of trying on the part of developer Scott Young. Young, who recently secured his site permit for his two-building "Museum Park" at Fifth and San Antonio (the old Covert dealership), is targeting a specific niche market for his tenant lineup: the shorts-and-T-shirt-wearing high-tech crowd. Moreover, Tivoli's stellar credit (it's owned by IBM) and Smart Growth orientation would have made Young a happy landlord. As it happens, Tivoli is in the market for about 1.5 million sq. ft., and that's a lot more than Young could muster. So that leaves Tivoli eyeing three sites outside the urban core. Meanwhile, George Denny, the mayor of the fourth fastest-growing small town in America, is trying to woo Tivoli to Cedar Park with promises of tax abatements. As for Austin, the city has some incentives on the table but tax abatements just aren't in the package...

Council Member Bill Spelman couldn't have picked a better meeting for getting his feet wet as the newest member of the Capital Area Metropolitan Organization (CAMPO). Filling in for outgoing member Jackie Goodman, Spelman took part in Monday night's jam-packed brouhaha over SH 45, the proposed 3.5-mile road that would extend MoPac in southwest Austin into Hays County by way of the Edwards Aquifer. Before CAMPO approved $12.3 million for the project (the vote requires final TxDOT approval), Spelman weighed in on behalf of a small bicycle/ped contingent that had sought assurance that its safety would be considered in the construction of the road. Extra-wide shoulders on the roadway should be in order, he said. At the same time, bicycle proponents were dismayed over the fact that none of the $56.9 million "windfall" CAMPO was considering for projects would be earmarked for bicycle lanes and the like. CAMPO member Karen Sonleitner explained after the meeting that the state gasoline tax funds are to be used for road projects only. "It doesn't mean [bike safety measures] can't be imbedded in a road project," she said, but had CAMPO tried to channel funds to a specific bicycle project, TxDOT wouldn't have been happy. "I believe we were getting very clear signals that that kind of advice wouldn't have been accepted," said Sonleitner.

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hyde park, baptist church, tivoli, bill spelman, campo

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