Austin/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on May 24, 2024
SOS Alliance Files Lawsuit Against City of Austin Over Statesman Building Redevelopment PlansSource: Google Street View

The Save Our Springs (SOS) Alliance has taken legal action once again, this time setting its sights on the City of Austin for greenlighting the transformation of the old Austin American-Statesman building into a colossal mixed-use development. The group is no stranger to the courtroom, as noted by KXAN, having successfully challenged the city over financial strategies intended to support district revamps previously.

At the heart of the recent lawsuit is what SOS Alliance claims to be a violation of state law and local procedure surrounding the Statesman Planned Unit Development (PUD). Passed by the Austin City Council in December 2022, the plan charts out a future for the property that includes no less than six towers, housing nearly 1,400 residential apartments, and a 275-room hotel. Furthermore, the city aspires to quickly construct a light rail station in the vicinity, as previously reported by KXAN.

"The package of development entitlements associated with the Statesman PUD is unprecedented," Bobby Levinski, an attorney for the SOS Alliance, told KVUE. The group is unnerved by the perception that the city has bestowed unique rights solely to this property, seemingly sidestepping standard zoning requisites.

According to the SOS Alliance, Austin's city officials contrived to not only ignore the Texas Open Meetings Act but also flouted charter stipulations related to parkland use, in addition to inconsistencies in procedural adherence. There's an overarching concern that the PUD has, effectively, granted special variances and created a bespoke code for the Statesman property, setting a potentially risky precedent for future development. In response to these allegations, City Attorney Anne Morgan has indicated the city's intent to thoroughly review the lawsuit, and declare its position formally in court, as indicated in a statement obtained by both news outlets.

While the development continues to garner controversy, the city maintains a steady course in its urban planning endeavors, eyeing the economic and infrastructure growth promised by the redevelopment of the Statesman property. The lawsuit, however, exemplifies the ongoing tensions between urban expansion and environmental, as well as procedural adherence, ideals within the city of Austin. With the legal process underway, observers anticipate the court's role in charting the next phase of this high-stakes urban redesign.

Austin-Real Estate & Development