City formulates $98 million financing plan to address Colony Park shortfall

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 by Chad Swiatecki

City is asking Travis County to contribute $30 million toward development costs of planned Colony Park unit development in northeast Austin, as part of proposed $98.8 million financial package dollars needed to complete the project.

A city memo released on Tuesday outlines several details related to the ongoing development led by Catellus Development Corporation, with more than 1,900 affordable and market-priced homes and apartments, mixed-use retail, office and institutional space. , and 53 acres of open space provided space for the long-gestating effort.

A March resolution directed city staff to create a financing plan to fill the estimated $103 million gap for Colony Park, down from the original price of more than $127 million in 2018. The The memo’s “possible financing plan” suggests a tax increase reinvestment zone agreement. with Travis County for $30 million, a city TIRZ that would capture 50% of possible revenue to generate $40 million, an $18 million contribution from the city’s capital improvement program, and $10.8 million dollars from a public improvement district.

City and county staff have been meeting in recent months about the proposed structure of TIRZ, which would span 20 years and allow the county to retain $15 million in maintenance-related tax revenue and to operation.

The city also sent a letter to Travis County and the Austin Transit Partnership requesting participation in the TIRZ, with city staff tentatively scheduled to attend the July 26 meeting of the Travis County Commissioners’ Court to make a presentation. on the development of Colony Park.

Additionally, the Austin Department of Transportation, Austin Water, and the Department of Watershed Protection helped identify capital improvement projects related to or near the Colony Park site. The drainage improvements could receive $6 million in city funding with preliminary engineering and design costs of $500,000 that could come from 2016 transit bond funds.

Staff members are exploring financing options for construction of the Colony Loop Drive Connector, with general bonds, certificates of obligation, and federal and state funding as possible sources. The capital project financing plan is expected to be presented to City Council before the end of the calendar year.

The city is developing strategies to stabilize the areas surrounding the 208-acre site to prevent the displacement of long-time residents as property values ​​in the area increase with the arrival of new residents and businesses. The Department of Housing and Planning will lead programs involving the $300 million in anti-displacement funds approved in 2020 under the Project Connect ballot proposal.

The Austin Housing Finance Corporation has issued a solicitation for nonprofit entities involved in efforts to reduce residential displacement and create “economic mobility” opportunities for those most vulnerable to displacement forces, putting focus on those living within one mile of Project Connect stations and lines and in communities at chronic risk of displacement. The application window for this solicitation closed at the end of June.

The Department of Economic Development and other departments are considering creating a program that would make travel navigators available to those who need help accessing services and opportunities to help them stay in their homes. Workforce Solutions Capital Area is planning an outreach event for the Colony Park area to promote workforce training and placement programs, with Central Health, Austin Community College and Catellus looking for ways to expand opportunities to neighboring communities.

Finally, the memo states that the Colony Park Master Development Agreement is suspended by an amendment to existing PUD plans and the final rezoning of the property. This work is expected to cost $2.6 million, with a viable financing plan needed before the contract with Catellus can go ahead.

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