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Thursday, August 14, 2008

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Master Planners Report Progress on Brackenridge Tract

AUSTIN – Cooper, Robertson and Partners, LLP – the master planning firm hired in March by The University of Texas System Board of Regents to develop two or more conceptual plans for the redevelopment of land in West Austin commonly known as the Brackenridge Tract – provided a progress report regarding the status of the project today (Aug. 14) at a meeting of the board.

Paul Milana, partner-in-charge, and David McGregor, project director, presented a summary of work to date to the board.  The update follows a public information session held on Tuesday at which the master planning firm shared preliminary information and analyses with members of the public and interested parties.

The Cooper Robertson team has divided the master planning project into two phases: gathering of data and analyses and preparation of conceptual plans.  The firm estimated the current data gathering and analyses phase will take approximately six months to complete, given the extensive scope of the work.  The Cooper Robertson team has been actively engaged in numerous discussions with interested parties.  Surveyors, traffic planners, and other members of the planning team have been gathering data about the tract and surrounding area.

The public has been invited to participate in a second online survey concerning the Brackenridge Tract. A link to the survey, along with other information, is available on the dedicated Web site for the master planning process at www.utbracktract.com.

Regents’ Chairman H. Scott Caven, Jr., expressed his appreciation for the team’s progress and underscored the board’s commitment to an inclusive and transparent planning process.

“The board is pleased with the hard work and expertise that has been shown by the Cooper Robertson team and in particular its ongoing commitment to seeking feedback from the public,” Caven said. “I want to recognize that this process will be one that will be of keen interest to many sectors of our community and state, that engenders strong feelings, and one that poses unique challenges and opportunities.

“The assessment of the status of the Brackenridge Tract and its uses, as recommended by the Task Force, was undertaken to fulfill the legal duty that the Board has to carry out the philanthropic purpose of Colonel Brackenridge’s remarkable gift.  Changes in the economy, changes in the needs of The University of Texas at Austin, and changes in the Austin community suggest that some change in the status quo of the Brackenridge Tract might be appropriate. The Board and I believe the Cooper Robertson team will point us in the right direction related to the changes that will be the likely final result of this process," Caven said.

The master planning team will conduct a weeklong planning workshop November 3 – 7; dates and times for public participation in the workshop will be announced in the future.

The next phase of the project – developing the conceptual plans – will begin in spring 2009 with the goal of presenting two or more plans to the board by June 2009.

The land along Lady Bird Lake was donated in 1910 by George W. Brackenridge, who was then a UT System regent from San Antonio, for the benefit of The University of Texas at Austin. Since that time, some acreage was conveyed for streets and similar public purposes and for residential development. Today, the tract consists of approximately 346 acres of undeveloped and developed land that includes a municipal golf course, UT Austin student housing, a biological field laboratory for the campus, a youth sports complex and various commercial buildings and enterprises on property leased from the board.

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