UT System Revives Plan for $100 Million Austin Office

UT System Revives Plan for $100 Million Austin Office

The University of Texas System has been conducting an inquiry into whether lawmakers have undue influence in admissions decisions at the University of Texas at Austin. An email obtained by the Tribune could shed light on the deliberations.

The University of Texas System is revisiting a plan to build a new office in downtown Austin that is projected to cost about $102 million. 

The plan was approved by the board of regents in 2012, but it was tabled in 2013 after it met with skepticism from lawmakers and others.

Now, with the legislative session behind them, and the effort to create a new university in South Texas — a top system priority — well under way, system officials said the time had come to move the new office from the backburner to the front.

This time, system officials said they have put more effort into selling the idea to legislators and leaders on their component campuses before deciding to move forward with it.

"There were concerns about how well we had communicated that this was designed as a cost-saving method," Scott Kelley, the system's executive vice chancellor for business affairs, said in an interview Thursday.

Currently, the UT System offices are spread over five buildings that range from 41 to 132 years old. By consolidating into a single, modern structure located in the same neighborhood as their current buildings, Kelley projected that they would save more than $125 million over the next 30 years.

"We still think it's a very sound idea," Kelley said.

The system hopes to begin construction later this year and to move into the new office in late 2016 or early 2017. Officials plan to issue a request for quotation for architectural services on Friday.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/27/ut-system-revives-plan-100-million-austin-office/.

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