Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

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Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Steve Adler » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:33 pm


At our 8/31 City Council meeting, we discussed setting aside time to discuss the Downtown Puzzle and related issues. I would like to propose Friday Sept. 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.for a work session. How does this work for folks?

Thank you...
Steve Adler
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Re: Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Kathie Tovo » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:44 pm


I know we're not scheduled to move forward at this point with the work session that our offices had tentatively scheduled for 9/22 or 9/26; are you still planning on bringing forward the resolution on 9/28?

As I mentioned in our discussion at Council, I believe we still has much to talk about with regard to the different elements in your resolution, so I do hope we will have the opportunity for a designated work session before the item returns to Council.


Kathie Tovo
Mayor Pro Tem
Council Member District 9
Mayor Pro Tem District 9
Kathie Tovo
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Re: Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Genoveva Rodriguez » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:52 pm

On behalf of Council Member Houston:

I agree with Mayor Pro Tem Tovo. There is more information needed to clarify some of my questions. I would appreciate more time and a dedicated work session to work through those with all of our colleagues.

Shall we consider postponing Item #52 on the September 28th council agenda?

In Peace,
Council Member Ora Houston
District #1
Policy Aide, Media & Communications
Office of Ora Houston, District 1
Genoveva Rodriguez
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Re: Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Steve Adler » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:14 am

I think and hope that there’s a way for us to move this item forward next week that recognizes that there are outstanding questions. Many of these questions will only be answered with the review and analysis that the resolution calls for. We will not be taking any final action on any plan.

An amendment is under consideration that would allow the process to move forward, but would also allow Council Members to be a part of it so as to be able to continue to ask questions, test concerns, and refine the concept.

Seems the only dates that the Council can gather to discuss the resolution if there’s interest are next week, Tuesday’s council meeting work session and Wednesday’s Code Next briefing. It is noticed for both just in case.
Steve Adler
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Re: Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Leslie Pool » Fri Sep 22, 2017 3:19 pm

Colleagues, thanks to all for the extra efforts and hard work dealing with the proposal the Mayor is offering. A number of questions relating to process and expected outcomes still need to be answered before any decisions are made to expand the Convention Center. This is a huge decision with far-reaching consequences; it’s important that the community at large has accurate and complete information about and sufficient time to understand what is proposed.

I agree that more conversations are needed, and look forward to having them.


Council Member District 7
Leslie Pool
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Re: Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Alison Alter » Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:12 pm

As multiple colleagues have expressed, I too would welcome the opportunity to examine the many elements in item 52 more deeply. I sense that there is discomfort over more than just the process here. Fundamentally, we have not had a chance to craft either the frame nor the elements of the vision for downtown together as a Council. Nor have we examined some of the underlying assumptions.

The downtown area affects all parts of town in a way that no other part of town does. There may be more pieces to this puzzle or additional dimensions that might lead to greater improvements. In my view each component of the puzzle merits its own work session and perhaps more. We need to review data and financial models to make sure our good intentions are matched by thorough forecasts and accurate assumptions.

Alison Alter
Council Member, District 10
Council Member, District 10
Alison Alter
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Re: Downtown Puzzle Work Session 9/22?

Postby Ellen Troxclair » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:45 am


I appreciate your work on this issue. I wanted to let you know that I have accepted an invitation to speak at a conference and will not be able to attend the meeting on Thursday. But, I would support my colleagues' request for more time to understand the implications of this decision. In the meantime, here are some of my specific questions that I look forward to discussing:

- What are the opportunity costs of investing all of our additional resources from an increased tourism tax on a Convention Center expansion? Are there other venues, entertainment districts, or stadiums that we should be considering for a portion of the pie?

- What are the options for featuring the redevelopment of the Travis County Expo Center as part of this proposal?

- How much are the airspace entitlements above the Convention Center worth in terms of investment? How can we move forward on a financing plan for the expansion without knowing that information? Should we issue a request for proposals to gather more information on this public-private partnership or land lease idea?

- Are there other community priorities that should be eligible for TPID funding such as the Spirit of East Austin?

- Do we as a City need to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the current and additional funding for issues related to homelessness? We have consistently invested more money to combating homelessness but the problem continues to grow. How can we plan, coordinate, and track our efforts in a strategic way that allows us to demonstrate measurable results, regardless of whether or not a portion of the funds come from the expansion of the convention center?

- What flexibility does the City have for how it spends dollars that are backed by the TIF?

- Is there support on council to commit a portion of the "waterfall" funds to tax relief? Some supporters have expressed to me that this plan will help to relieve pressure on the general fund and allow for tax relief. This is a concept that would interest me greatly, but that I have not heard articulated as part of the plan thus far.

Thanks for your consideration.

Council Member District 8
Ellen Troxclair
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