AUSTIN EDITION -- Bus garage talks continue

Transportation company owner requests payment delay

By Nikki Merfeld


Austin city officials will work with Mark Crumb, owner of Austin Transportation Co., to solve a disagreement in the developer's contract for a new bus headquarters.

Crumb has been working with Austin's Housing and Redevelopment Authority to build a 55-bus garage on the former site of the Milwaukee Road roundhouse. The HRA is paying for the site cleanup, and Crumb agreed to pay certain costs, including assessments for 11th Street improvements.


Crumb said at Monday's finance committee meeting he was not told about some of the expenses and is requesting a delay in the development.

At the heart of the matter is the development of Fourth Avenue Northeast between 10th and 11th streets. The city had hoped to build a road there, but was unable to reach an agreement with the former I&M; Rail Link. The railroad agreed only to allow an emergency crossing. The city can, however, improve Fourth Avenue from 10th Street to the railroad tracks and is asking Crumb to share 50 percent of that cost -- an estimated $34,000. The other 50 percent is part of a developer's agreement between the city and Larry Hanson, owner of Hill Roofing and Sheet Metal Work Inc., said city engineer Jon Erichson.

"My biggest issue is this was brought to my attention about two weeks ago," Crumb said Monday.

Community development director Craig Hoium disputed that statement.

"In our discussions this summer you were made aware of it," said Hoium. "My recollection was that you agreed to participate (though) initially you weren't in favor of developing Fourth Avenue."

Third Ward council member Dick Lang said the city was planning to build a $70,000 road there before Crumb became involved in the development. Lang asked whether the cost of the road could be included in the city's ninth tax increment financing district, which includes another business, Palleton of Minnesota.

City Administrator Pat McGarvey said that could be done but other such agreements have been tied to job creation.

Crumb does not expect to create more jobs than the 10 full-time and 60 part-time jobs he already has.


"Let's throw Fourth Avenue out of my project entirely and two to three years from now, let's sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about it," said Crumb. "I'm a fair guy."

Crumb said he's agreed to pay $15,500 for improvements to 11th Street done two years ago.

"Mr. Hanson fought that and he won, but I agreed to do that because I want to see this project go," Crumb said.

He has also agreed to about $68,000 in sewer and water hookups in addition to his construction costs. In the proposed agreement, the HRA will deed about six acres of land to Austin Transportation at no cost.

"My biggest point to everybody is the amount of money involved. I think it's excessive," said Crumb.

Construction of the garage cannot start until the agreement is signed, said HRA interim director Tom Smith. Crumb said he had hoped to start the project in June.

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