Austin seeks developers for 200-acre community

As Austin continues to grow and empty lots become harder to find -- there's a rare gem in East Austin.

AUSTIN - Located in the middle of East Austin is something you don't see much of around the city: 208 acres of clear, green, undeveloped land. 

"It is rare," said Martin Barrera, redevelopment project manager for the City of Austin. "What's especially unique about this is that the city owns the land."

But what makes it unique has also been a thorn in the side of neighbors. 

"If it had been owned by a developer, it probably would have been developed by now," said Barbara Scott.

Scott has lived in the Colony Park neighborhood for more than 40 years and now serves as president of the neighborhood association. 

"When this community was first developed it was developed as a subsidized neighborhood. And so we were told when we moved out that there was going to be a school, there was going to be a park," she said. 

Forty years later, that's about all there is.

"Grocery stores are missing. I just had someone ask me about where the nearest coffee shop is. There is not a coffee shop out here," Scott said. "Medical facilities."

The city is working to change that. It wants to develop the land into a mixed-income, mixed-use community. Right now, the city is accepting requests for qualifications from developers interested in partnering with the city to build the community.

"I think what's really important about the vision is that it was a community-driven process. So the master plan was crafted with three years of intense relationship with the existing community," Barrera said.

And that community now has hope.

"There's a psalm in the bible that says a people without a vision perish. And so we have a vision. It was just about getting people, you know -- the City of Austin, the council, the mayor, whatever -- to listen to us," Scott said.

The city hopes to name a developer by the summer of 2018. 

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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