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Two tracts of land on East 12th Street were the focus of a special meeting today by the Urban Renewal Board, a panel whose responsibility is to "eliminate slum and blighting influence" in parts of the city. The board took possession of the properties years ago in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood. Critics have accused the board and other agencies of taking too long to turn over the properties, and have questioned their role in the face of Eastside gentrification.
The board voted to sell two tracts of property on East 12th Street two completely different ways. The stretch of land on the 1100 hundred block will be sold to the highest bidder.
The lot on the 1300 hundred block will be opened for a request of proposals. That means the board will take into consideration not only the how much money is being offered for the land, but also what the developer plans on doing with it and how that could affect the neighborhood. The board could take a lower bid if they think the development plan is a better fit for the area.
The board hopes to have both properties sold this fall. If not, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could intervene in an effort to speed up the process. HUD could withholding some of Austin's current housing funds until the land is sold.
Neighborhood Housing and Community Development real estate manager Gina Copic said the decision has been a long time coming.
“It’s really not new, we recently completed a market study and development strategy and one of the recommendations in that development strategy was to dispose immediately of many of the tracts of land that are located particularly on East 12th Street,” she said.
The board will begin accepting bids as soon as the properties are appraised. That number has yet to be determined.