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Downtown Courthouse Shuffle: County Moves to Sell Prime Property After Election Defeat

Old federal courthouse could also be up for grabs

Old federal courthouse in Austin
Old federal courthouse in Austin
Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0.

Travis County commissioners voted Tuesday to move toward selling a downtown lot at 308 Guadalupe Street, according to an Austin American-Statesman report. The lot was purchased to be site of a new county courthouse, but last year voters defeated a $287 million bond package that would have paid for the new building—some of them reasoning that the value of the land would be better realized through private development.

On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court voted to request proposals from developers wanting to lease or purchase the site, the Statesman reported.

The county also continued in its attempt to to acquire the old federal courthouse at 200 West Eighth Street. The Depression-era building is on the National Register of Historic Places, the paper reported, noting that the General Services Administration is expected to release it as surplus property—which would mean it could be given to a governmental entity a no cost.

If the county were to acquire the building, it would be responsible for extensive renovations it needs, according to the Statesman. The paper noted that there is also competition for the space, including a group wanting to turn it into a homeless shelter. The historic federal court building has neo-Classical exterior features and excellent examples of Art Moderne and Art Deco finishes and detailing inside.

Because of preservation requirements that would limit renovation changes, some involved were skeptical about how much moving to the federal court would alleviate the current building's overcrowding. Similarly, new buildings considered in the area of the current courthouse would be limited by Capitol view-corridor requirements and might not add enough space.

Travis County moves to sell proposed courthouse site, find new options [AAS]

Travis County Courthouse

1000 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

Proposed site for sale or lease

300 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701, USA