AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A tree-lined pedestrian mall is in the works for an area north of the Texas State Capitol.
The Austin American-Statesman (http://atxne.ws/1SK1Uyq ) report planners hope the mall, which needs approval from several state agencies or boards, would help ease office space rental issues by including construction of two buildings and more parking spots.
The first of three phases of the mall is slated to include three blocks of walkable mall and two new state office buildings, as well as almost 4,500 new and much-needed parking spaces in five subterranean levels to be completed by 2020 at a cost of $580 million.
Officials say the buildings would create about a million square feet of new office space in the Capitol complex and will be capable of holding 3,600 employees. It is also expected to drastically decrease the state’s annual lease payments on about 1.2 million square feet of leased office space in the downtown area.
Republican State Sen. Kevin Eltife has worked on plans for the Capitol complex for the past four legislative sessions. In 2013, then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a concept that included two new office buildings because he wanted a full master plan to be created first.
“It’s an expansion of the Capitol complex that is long overdue,” Eltife said.
According to Eltife, the construction will be financed by non-voter approved bonds, and the money the state saves on rent will be redirected to cover the debt service.
The first phase still needs to be approved by officials with the General Land Office, the Texas Preservation Board and the Texas Facilities Commission. Officials expect final approval in March, and they hope to break ground in 2017.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com