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It’s the only thing they’re not making any more of. Especially land in Austin, along the Colorado River, and just a few minutes outside of downtown. Thanks to a gift from Col. George Washington Brackenridge in 1910, the University owns a 345-acre chunk of such real estate that would rival the Garden of Eden in property value. Having been shortchanged again in the last legislative session, UT has started to look at how it could use the tract to bring in more revenue. At present the University brings in about $940,000 a year by leasing pieces of the land to a variety of developers, retailers, organizations, and the City of Austin. Regent James Huffines, BBA ’73, Life Member, convened a task force in July 2006 to study the tract and recommend ways to “utilize the asset to the maximum benefit” of the University. That task force, led by Larry Temple, BBA ’57, LLB ’59, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, and past president of the Texas Exes, delivered its report to a packed house at the board’s Oct. 12 meeting. It concluded that the existing uses of the land are neither its highest nor its best, and that a master planner should be commissioned to outline what would be. At their next meeting a month later the regents allotted time for people with an interest in the Brackenridge Tract to give their feedback on the task force’s report. What follows is a summation of the report’s findings on three issues and the feedback they got on each. Lions Municipal Golf Course Old “Muny,” as it’s known, has been Aus-

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Lease to City of Austin

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BRACKENRIDGE APTS 53.28 Acres D

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Lease to Safeway, Inc.

Lease to 7-Eleven, Inc. Lease to CVS Pharmacy, Inc. Lease to Gables NW Texas LP Lease to Heidi’s German Bakery, Pastry Shop, Etc., Inc. BRACKENRIDGE FIELD LAB 81.97 Acres

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SAFEWAY 2.64 Acres

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Lease to West Austin Youth Association

Eligible for non-university development in 2009

Academic & research facility, Brackenridge Development Agreement prohibits non-university development for so long as the Agreement is in effect D ve

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GOLF COURSE 141.38 Acres

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Leave the Brackenridge Tract be or milk it for its huge real estate potential? Regents get an earful while contemplating fate of historic lakefront UT property

Lease to Oyster Boat Town Landing, Ltd.

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WAYA 14.56 Acres

PARK STREET 13.21 Acres

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Lease to Lower Colorado River Authority BOAT TOWN 2.58 Acres

Conservation Area

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STRATFORD TRACT 88.6 Acres

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DEEP EDDY TRACT 14.49 Acres

COLORADO APTS 20.96 Acres Became eligible for non-university development in 1999

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BRACKENRIDGE TRACT Total Owned Acreage: Approximately 345 acres

tin’s most popular municipal golf course since the ’20s, though it has seen a decline in the last few years. Kite, Crenshaw, and Hogan all played there growing up and all have said publicly that they would like to see future young golfers have the same opportunity. The task force recommended that the regents not renew the city’s lease on the 141-acre plot, the largest of the tract, when it expires in 2019 and that it be included in the master planning process for possible development. City manager Toby Futrell and Councilwoman Jennifer Kim both want to save Muny, and Kim has expressed interest in negotiating with UT for permanent rights to the land. There’s been no official response yet from the board concerning that possibility. The task force did recommend to the regents that they not sell any part of the tract without a compelling reason to do so, and Regent Huffines has said publicly that it is not the tradition of the board to sell land, even though it sold 90 acres of the Brackenridge Tract in the ’90s. Brackenridge and Colorado Apartments The University’s apartments for married and graduate students received both the most emphatic condemnation from the task force and the most spirited defense by its patrons. The task force stated unequivocally that the existing apartments should be removed and housing for married and graduate students either relocated or replaced altogether with a stipend system. This did not sit well with the residents of the apartments, many of whom told the regents at the November meeting that those apartments — their

affordability, the diverse and supportive community within them, the proximity to campus and to parks, and the presence of Matthews Elementary School — were the reason they chose UT over other, often more prestigious and financially generous institutions. The task force seemed to believe that the location of those apartments offered the most lucrative potential for development. What the many student residents pointed out, though, was that a bigger stipend is nice and important to attracting better grad students. But demolishing those apartments to raise the money would be one step forward and several stumbles back. Brackenridge Field Lab The School of Biological Sciences, and particularly its section of Integrative Biology, is among the University’s most highly regarded programs, nationally known and anchored by the Brackenridge Field Laboratory. There’s no talk of eliminating the lab, but the task force suggested that it either be moved to another location or reduced in size from 82 acres down to 60, based on the findings of an independent expert they hired to study the lab. The College of Natural Sciences, though, brought in its own experts, who believed moving the lab would mean losing four decades of land data and collections, and, unless a new site was as close or closer to campus, a potentially devastating blow to its accessibility and, thus, usefulness. The report will continue to be studied and discussed at the board’s Dec.6-7 meeting, but no eminent action is expected. —Tim Taliaferro


Cashing in on Brackenridge's Big Gift