In November 2006, City of Austin voters approved a $58.1 million bond package to support the improvement of public safety facilities (Proposition 7). Part of the improvement plan included the purchase of additional real estate for new facilities. In 2008, the City purchased a former Home Depot located on 13.8 acres at 906 E St. Johns Ave/7309 North IH-35. Five years later, in 2013, the City purchased the adjacent 5.2-acre site, a former Chrysler dealership, to consolidate ownership of the entire property between St. Johns and Blackson Avenues.
Though initially purchased to support public safety needs of the City, City Council directed staff to reconsider future uses of this 20-acre property and evaluate how the property might serve the needs of the neighborhood. In December 2017, City Council passed Resolution No. 20171207-058 directing the City Manager to work with the community on a new vision for the St. John property to better serve the neighborhood.
2018 Community Input
After passage of the 2017 resolution, Council Member Gregorio Casar’s Office led community input and visioning sessions to ask the community how the property might serve the neighborhood. Participants suggested an array of potential uses that included open/recreation space, affordable housing, cultural space, youth development services, a pool/water features, local retail/food, and walking trails. This outreach laid the foundation for future planning.
2019-2020 University of Texas Study
On June 6, 2019, City council approved Resolution No. 20190606-098 directing the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with the University of Texas for planning assistance at the St. John property. Two weeks later, the City entered into an interlocal agreement with the University of Texas at Austin and its Center for Sustainable Development to conduct an analysis and scenario development study that could provide the groundwork for redevelopment.
The University of Texas Study was delivered to the City in February 2020 and can be viewed here: https://issuu.com/utsoa/docs/revitalization_strategies_st._john_issuu_utsoa
Building upon the University of Texas Study and the last 2 years of community input, staff will present results to City Council this Spring and seek direction to move forward.