The Austin (Texas) school board has approved the sale of its district headquarters for $36.5 million.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that the board is moving forward with the $28.4 million purchase of a nine-story building in South Austin that will be the new home for district headquarters.
Officials say that having employees in one location will be enable the district to operate more efficiently. Staffers at several sites across Austin would be consolidated in the new headquarters. The new location also will offer better accessibility and parking.
The existing 128,000-square-foot headquarters, known as the Carruth Center, has served as the district's administrative center for more than 25 years. The buyer is Schlosser Development of Austin.
In addition to selling the headquarters, the Austin board approved the sale of other surplus properties:
• The Millett Opera House was sold for $3 million to the Foundation for the Preservation of the Historic Millett Opera House.
• The Baker Center, a former school in the Hyde Park neighborhood, was sold for $10.6 million to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
• An eight-acre property on Tannehill Lane was sold for $1.96 million to the city of Austin.
• A 1.2-acre tract on Doris Drive was sold for $920,000
Prior to the vote, a commercial real estate agent asked the board to delay a vote as he presented an offer of $39 million for district headquarters. But the board decided that they would follow the process they had begun a year ago when bids were solicited.
In a news release prior to the board action, Austin Superintendent Paul Cruz said the land sales will help the district as it plans for the future. The district won approval earlier this month of a $1.05 billion bond issue for facility improvements.
"This is a positive step forward," says Cruz. "AISD is among the largest land owners in the city. Along with that comes the responsibility to make determinations regarding properties and facilities so that we're effectively and efficiently planning for the future. The sale of all the previously announced properties come as the district anticipates continued budget challenges."
One of the district's goals in selling the properties was ensuring that district assets will be used in an effort to stabilize communities with more housing options.
"We consistently hear that affordability is an obstacle for families looking to remain in AISD," says Nicole Conley Johnson, the district's chief financial officer. "The contracts we are looking to execute require the developer to provide 25 percent affordable housing units."
The district already has sold two other properties. The board approved the sale this summer to RSI Communities of the 32 acre-Loyola Lane property for $7.2 million, and the 12-acre Service Center site $4.6 million.