Lions Municipal Golf Course, the site of a long preservation struggle in the face of increasing development pressure, has received a possible reprieve from an unlikely source—if it can afford it.
According to a Wednesday story in the Austin American-Statesman, the University of Texas, has reversed its previous position and offered to extend the MUNY’s lease past 2019—if the course can pay rent that is closer to market rate than its current $500,000 a year or so annually.
The fate of the West Austin golf course, which is owned by the University of Texas System and operated by the city, has been in question since 2009, when UT commissioned plans to develop the 141-acre plot along Lake Austin Boulevard—part of what’s known as the Brackenridge Tract—for commercial and residential use.
The UT System Board of Regents voted in 2011 against renewing the city’s lease on the course when it expires in 2019, according to the daily.
While the move would have generated several million dollars more than would leasing it to the city, which manages the course, it was met with fervent opposition, mostly via the Save Muny group, which counts retired pro golfer Ben Crenshaw among its vocal members.
In a major victory for Save Muny, the course was added to the National Parks Service’s Register of Historic Places in June and to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 list of 11 Most Endangered Places.
The paper also reported that UT President Gregory Fenves, along with university vice president for legal affairs Patti Ohlendorf and longtime local development lawyer Richard Suttle, met behind closed doors with the UT Board of Regents last month for a discussion of future uses for the Brackenridge Tract.
Based on UT System official’s statement from a few years ago, the Statesman estimate that the land could garner $5.9 million a year or more if leased for a mixed-use development.