Travis County is preparing a Strategic Needs Analysis and Facilities Master Plan for its Central Campus, to plan for the appropriate space for county services in the downtown area, from today until 2035.

Goals

The Strategic Needs Analysis and Facilities Master Plan will show how:

  • To meet the growing needs of the public for county services with prudent and coordinated plans for building renovation and new development;
  • To create a proper place for the vital county services of providing fair justice and professional government, of which the community can be proud; and
  • To develop the Travis County Central Campus into a vibrant district of downtown Austin.

Methodology

This project is divided into two phases:

  • Phase One is the Strategic Needs Assessment, that will identify the space needs for a variety of justice and general government offices and departments, through 2035.
  • Phase Two is the Facilities Master Plan that will provide a phased strategy for meeting the needs identified.

This comprehensive Facilities Master Plan for the Central Campus will:

  • Ensure that any new buildings, as well as existing buildings, are the right size, form, quality, image and location for the proposed functions; and that the tenant mix will work well;
  • Achieve consensus among officials on shared goals and objectives through a cohesive plan;
  • Create a phasing plan to spread costs out responsibly over many years based on estimates which are accurate and understandable; and
  • Prepare a major bond program through a planning process that includes public input.

Growing Needs

There are 33 offices and departments currently located downtown (16 justice related and 17 general government) in buildings which are filled to capacity. There are 38 independent elected officials involved, along with other appointed officials. Each has its own unique mission and needs for serving the public. The many different perspectives among these officials on “the right thing to do” must be synthesized, balanced and integrated.

The study includes determining the projected space needs and appropriate locations for these offices and departments, based on operational priorities and goals, as well as the best use of the county’s assets. The study will also plan for the immediate and future needs for the county’s Data Center.

Proper Place

The historic Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse is an important feature of downtown Austin, but has serious physical and operational challenges as a 79 year old building which must be met for it to remain an anchor building in the Central Campus. The other 11 county-owned buildings, of various sizes and ages, face many physical and functional challenges, not the least of which is the growing demand for energy efficiency and sustainability.

The study includes technical review of these 12 buildings to determine their useful life, feasibility and costs of renovation, as well as potential for new construction, along with the appropriate tenant mix and locations. The study will identify and analyze potential sites for future county facilities in the Central Campus area, to ensure timely and appropriate site selections.

Vibrant District

The area surrounding the historic courthouse has very little “sense of place”, lacking a positive, cohesive neighborhood identity. The historic courthouse faces Wooldridge Park, which is owned by the State and operated by the City, and is perceived by many as an underutilized public open space.

Though the surrounding area has many historic structures, they are unconnected. There is relatively little pedestrian activity, no ground floor retail, limited transportation opportunities, inadequate parking and few features that make the Travis County Central Campus an attractive area for people to visit. The study will address these concerns with a thorough public input process.