AUSTIN EDITION -- Plans OK'd for transportation headquarters

Office, 55-bus garage is part of project

By Nikki Merfeld


Austin Transportation Co. has received the green light to proceed with plans to build a new headquarters.

Mark Crumb, owner of the school bus company, has worked nine months with Kermit Mahan, Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board executive director, to develop a 6.65-acre parcel of land on the site of the former Milwaukee Road railroad roundhouse on 11th Street Northeast. Austin Transportation contracts with the Austin school district and manages the school buses.


At Wednesday's HRA board meeting, Crumb presented plans for his project. The project includes an office, a 55-bus garage and a shop with a wash bay and four mechanics' bays.

Board Chairman Dick Lang noted that the four-lane, 21,000-square-foot bus garage alone will be "as big as a football field."

Crumb stressed that his company is working to make the buildings attractive and of quality construction.

"This is not a preliminary plan," Mahan said, emphasizing Crumb's commitment and readiness to begin.

"We rent three different garages in town, so this is a real consolidation for us," said Crumb.

And then there's the water issue. The northeast site is in flood plain.

Crumb has nine full-time employees and 60 part-time workers. The new site offers room to expand should the business grow, he said. Along with the school-bus service, he also runs Austin Coaches.

The project will require development of Fourth Avenue Northeast, which the city had planned to build as an emergency road, said Mahan. Buses will drive into the garage from Fourth Avenue and exit to 11th Street.


Lang said the city has budgeted $70,000 for that road, but will likely consider additional funds for curb and gutter work.

Mahan said Crumb hopes to have the project done by the start of the next school year.

The site is part of the city's ninth tax-increment financing district, which includes Palleton Inc. at Eighth Avenue and 11th Street Northeast.

Mahan said Crumb's investment, estimated at more than $1 million, will increase the amount of taxes generated by the land from $1,000 a year to $35,000 a year. For 21 years, the $34,000 difference, or tax increment, will be used to pay for the work being done by the city to improve the site, said Mahan.

Crumb will pay a minimum of $145,000 for the land in addition to his investment, said Mahan.

In addition to the street improvement, the city will build a retention pond to slow the water run-off created by the additional pavement, he said. The pond is required by city code.

The HRA received two grants to purchase the 14-acre site and clean up the oil that seeped into the ground from train repairs. The clean-up work is expected to be done in May and should not interfere with Crumb's work, said Mahan.

He said he believes the city will be able to attract another developer to the remaining parcel of about five acres after the clean-up work is done.

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