AUSTIN -- The fact that Austin is growing isn't news to anyone, and soon, the Austin City Council will also grow, adding four additional members as part of the 10-1 geographic districting plan.
"The voters voted to add additional council members in the last election, and so we have to have space available by December 2014," said City of Austin Officer of Real Estate Services Lauraine Rizer.
Right now, City Hall has some serious growing pains. When the building was constructed back in 2004, one mayor's office and six council member offices were included. Now not only will four offices large enough to house the new council members and their staffs have to be built, those additional council members will also need meeting space and conference rooms. Plus, the dias and council chambers will have to be larger to fit a council of 11.
With just 18 months to get it ready, time is ticking.
"There's not enough time to do everything that we need to do, so we have to do things simultaneously, so one of those things is for me to lock down the lease space now while we're still designing," said Rizer.
Thursday the council voted to allow Rizer to negotiate leases for office space in two buildings -- an 84-month lease with the Lower Colorado River Authority for the Jack Miller Building on Lake Austin Boulevard for about $2.8 million and a 48-month lease with Silicon Laboratories, located right next to City Hall, for about $5.6 million. In both buildings city staff are looking at leasing two floors.
The leased space would not only be used by city staff that works at City Hall, but also by employees who work at One Texas Center. Rizer says that building is bursting at the seams, and there are also plans to renovate it.
City staff would like to have the leased spaces renovated and in use by Spring 2014 and start renovating City Hall at the same time. City Hall should be complete by December 2014, just in time for the expanded council to go to work in January.