The Austin Community College District is under contract with RedLeaf Properties, LLC, for the purchase of property at Highland Mall – the land on which the core of the mall is situated, for $14.6 million. The deal is expected to close in mid-May.
The 32.2-acre property is subject to a ground lease with the company currently operating the mall. Under the terms of that ground lease, ACC will be paid monthly lease payments. It is anticipated that businesses in the mall will continue operations according to the terms of their sub-leases with the ground tenant. After the expiration of the ground lease, ACC will develop the property for college purposes.
This acquisition, which includes more than 1,600 parking spaces, follows two other Highland purchases by the college. In May 2010, ACC bought 18.5 acres and a 194,000-square-foot Dillard’s building (the former women’s store) for $4.71 million, including costs and fees. In January 2011, the college purchased 12.8 acres and a 223,000-square-foot Macy’s building for $5.68 million, including costs and fees. Following the close of this transaction, ACC will own 63.5 acres at Highland, comprising 79 percent of the mall site.
“This purchase enables ACC to protect its previous investments in the Dillard’s and Macy’s properties, and will allow the college to develop the combined properties in a comprehensive and consistent fashion,” says Dr. Barbara Mink, chair of the ACC Board of Trustees. “This is a smart investment that protects the college’s interests and will ultimately bring a wealth of new educational opportunities to the community.”
These land purchases align with the college’s Master Plan, a long-term strategy to expand programs and services to meet dramatic increases in enrollment mandated by the state’s Closing the Gaps initiative. The Master Plan calls for the college to accommodate enrollment increases through new construction and existing campus expansions.
“ACC is experiencing tremendous growth, currently increasing by more than 4,000 students annually. That’s like adding an entire small college each year,” says Dr. Stephen B. Kinslow, ACC president/CEO. “With more than 45,000 credit students this semester, we already have great need to expand our infrastructure. These Highland acquisitions will play a key role in allowing us to continue meeting the vast educational and training needs of the region.”
The college is currently evaluating construction and renovation timelines for the Dillard’s and Macy’s properties. ACC is considering multiple potential uses for the combined tracts, including administrative offices, instructional space (particularly during planned renovations of current campuses), facilities for non-credit Continuing Education programs, and a conference center.
posted in: ACC Newsroom, Highland Mall, Official ACC Press Releases