Austin City Council passed a pair of resolutions regarding the potential future of McKalla Place early Friday morning.
In their final meeting before breaking for more than a month, Council passed Item 60 (announcing the City will receive plans for McKalla Place) and Item 130 (directing the City Manager to analyze the Precourt Sports Ventures proposal and begin negotiations with them).
“It’s been an honor to bring the vision of Major League Soccer to Austin, Texas, a city I’ve enjoyed for many years,” Columbus Crew SC investor/operator Anthony Precourt said. “The youthful energy, inclusiveness and spirit of this community present an incredible opportunity for this club to bring this community together.”
Item 60 passed 8-1-1 with Council Member Pio Renteria voting no, Council Member Delia Garza abstaining and Council Member Ellen Troxclair off the dais. Items 117 and 130 passed unanimously with Council Members Troxclair and Ora Houston off the dais.
City Manager Spenser Cronk is instructed to report back regarding Items 60 and 130 the next time City Council meets on Aug. 9.
Mayor Steve Adler said early in the session that with the amendments, both items would have enough support to pass.
After hearing a few testimonies regarding the Bond Package, Adler invited the kids in attendance in support of soccer to take center stage and address the council. A few dozen of them came forward and 10 or so spoke in favor of the move.
Of 367 people to sign their name on the kiosk at City Hall regarding McKalla Place, 83 percent were in favor of the stadium.
District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool released amendments to Item 60 on Thursday afternoon before Council discussed and voted on the motion, changing the language to say that the City will ‘receive’ plans for development instead of ‘solicit’ them.
A memo posted on the Council message board said plans will be received through Aug. 3.
“The thing that’s been the clearest to me over the past week is that we all want the best deal for the City and I appreciate that,” Pool said. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I was less than impressed by PSV’s first offer. But I also recognize that it is just that — the first offer.”
Houston motioned to add Aug. 23 as the date Council would make its decision, giving them an extra two weeks. After some debate, she withdrew her amendment.
“We have a deadline that we’re getting extended that is prior to Aug. 9,” PSV lobbyist Richard Suttle said. “That’s a very important date for us and we disappointed we couldn’t get this done before the summer break. Pushing it to Aug. 23 is problematic for us.”
In addition to a full analysis of the PSV proposal, Item 130 directs the City Manager to also looking at different City-owned tracts of land that could be used for affordable housing, including maximizing on-site affordable housing opportunities.
Both items require a fully-funded Metro Rail station and associated infrastructure that meets Cap Metro specifications, which has an estimated cost of $13 million according to the city proposal released June 1.
District 4 Council Member Greg Casar added three amendments, requiring at least 130 on-site affordable housing units, higher labor standards at the stadium and asks for a formal inclusion plan focused on diverse communities.
“I believe that there’s a good deal to be made here and you’ll be able to make that,” Adler said. “If together you’re able to deliver soccer to this city, you will give this city something that it does not have now. That is a grand opportunity for all parts of this city to get together in common purpose in a way that just does not happen now.”
Even if the land isn’t as profitable to Austin as other uses, the overwhelming demand form Council was getting the most community benefit out of a stadium deal.
“Please report this not as an approval, but as the continuing of a negotiation,” District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said. “I don’t want anyone to think in the community that the initial deal that was put out is somehow being blessed as a final deal.”
The majority of the more than 30 citizens that addressed the Council were in favor of having a soccer stadium at McKalla Place. Those that were opposed weren’t necessarily against soccer, rather the use of the land for a stadium instead of affordable housing.
PSV released an updated conceptual design on Tuesday, which included a four-story parking garage and up to 130 on-site affordable housing units.
“Just as this World Cup has captured the attention of the globe, we imagine that the passion of MLS capturing the attention of Austin,” Precourt said. “We also anticipate the spirit of Austin capturing the attention of the soccer community. We’re excited about the community benefits and the economic impact that this can bring to the city.
“We’re committed to working with you to develop an acceptable proposal for your consideration on Aug. 9. It’s important to us to bring this city a Major League Soccer team.”