EPS has supported the City of Austin’s efforts to develop a 208-acre parcel of publicly owned land to provide workforce housing, commercial development, and public facilities and services to address longstanding unmet needs of the surrounding lower-income, largely minority community. With EPS’s assistance, the City has successfully attracted a major national development corporation to serve as partner, approved a tax increment financing program, and a deal to deliver a much-needed healthcare facility for the community. With significant ongoing involvement and leadership from community organizations, EPS is currently helping to refine the community-led plan to improve feasibility while maintaining desired public benefits.
EPS’s involvement in Colony Park began in 2015, after the City had adopted Planned Urban Development zoning based on a plan developed with the community. EPS reviewed the plan’s feasibility and found that the costs of the project and its community benefits were unlikely to be supported without public subsidy. EPS assisted in shaping a developer solicitation process that acknowledged the challenges but also identified a pathway toward feasibility through a public-private partnership. Once the City selected a developer, EPS assisted in refining the physical and phasing plan and financing strategy to control costs, increase revenues, and deliver the desired community benefits. In a related effort, EPS helped to negotiate an agreement between the City and the Central Health to transfer a portion of the Colony Park site for the construction of a healthcare facility even as the remainder of the large site undergoes continued planning and negotiation.