The Austin school board will vote tonight on the schematic design for a new $40 million district-wide performing arts center to be built next to the Dell Children’s Medical Center at the corner of Mueller Boulevard and East 51st Street. The board approved buying the empty 3.5 acre lot last April for about $4 million.
The schematic design includes a 1,200 seat auditorium, a 225 seat theater, offices for people in Austin ISD’s fine arts department, and a parking garage with 400 spaces. The facility will be paid for with money voters approved in a 2008 bond election.
Some people who live in the adjacent Windsor Park neighborhood told the district last summer they were worried about the traffic flow in and out of events hosted at the center and the appearance of the building from 51st Street. School board member Robert Schneider suggested in an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman that spending $40 million on a performing arts center was an example of “waste and inefficiency.”
But an advisory board of community members and parents is expected to provide “unanimous” support for the schematic design, according to school district documents.
“I think it’s about time,” said Edward Zamora, a former band teacher who sits on the district’s Performing Arts Center Task Force. “I think the people in charge and the architect company did a great job of setting things up.”
Construction on the project is slated to begin this June. The building should be completed by the fall of 2013.