Austin ISD gets green light to sell five properties, including headquarters

Southfield Building at 4000 I-35 in south Austin. (KXAN Photo)
Southfield Building at 4000 I-35 in south Austin. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Independent School District trustees cleared the way for the district to move forward with the sale of five properties including its downtown headquarters.

The district says it’s looking to the Southfield Building at the northwest corner of Interstate 35 and East Ben White Boulevard as its “new” location.

AISD is negotiating a deal to buy the building, which isn’t on the market, for $28.3 million. The district is selling its existing headquarters, the Carruth Administration Center, for $36.5 million. 

At the Southfield Building, approximately 800 AISD administration and staff would be under one roof and not split up between two sites. If a deal is made, the district would want to move into the new space by the end of next summer.

“A key piece of feedback we hear from visitors and employees alike is that parking and downtown traffic are major challenges at our current location,” said Reyne Telles, executive director of communication and engagement. “We are confident that the new location will help alleviate these concerns as we hope folks find this location more accessible.”

The district plans to purchase the Southfield Building with a portion of revenue from the sale of the current headquarters and the sale of the Baker Center.

Schlosser Development Corporation is looking to buy AISD’s headquarters, which sits on prime real estate on West Sixth Street near Lamar Boulevard. The company may not ring a bell, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen their work. Their projects include the flagship Whole Foods store, the nearby shopping centers that include REI, Anthropologie, Book People and West Elm.

Vice-president David Vitanza told KXAN there is still a long way to go before they decide what will be best for the AISD site. The process will include a feasibility study to determine if office space, housing or retail is needed — or a combination of all three.

Those who make a living in the old west Austin neighborhood are full of anticipation.

“I am excited and have been waiting for it to get sold so that it could be something functional and draw traffic,” said Brad Fortney, owner of Fortney Home, who opened up shop directly across the street from AISD’s headquarters 21 years ago.

From floor to ceiling, Fortney’s eclectic shop is full of treasures from the past that have become more valuable, just like the land around him.

In most cases, for new buildings like high rise condos and retail to go in, the old has had to come down.

“I dread it becoming a huge construction site, but I realize that could very well be inevitable,” said Fortney. “I realize [the developers] may think the way it’s set up now is going to be outdated for dealing with a contemporary market.”

Whatever the future holds, he hopes it happens fast and results in little impact to the busy two lane road that helps customers find his shop.

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