Asset Recycling in Downtown Austin, TX

ClientTravis County, TX
LocationAustin, TX


Unlocking the value of public assets to fund critical social infrastructure.

Client Goals:

Travis County sought to monetize a prime 1.7-acre block in downtown Austin at its highest and best use following a failed bond referendum to build a new courts facility at this site. The County aimed to offset costs to construct a new courts facility while returning a prime downtown parcel to the tax assessment roll and strengthen the local economy.

Hayat Brown Role: 


Hayat Brown team members first conducted a market analysis to determine the optimal mix of uses based on market demand and determined the potential value of the site under its highest and best use. To prepare for a developer solicitation, we then assessed both traditional and Public-Private Partnerships (P3) capitalization structures and the associated project delivery methods to determine which structure would generate the highest value with a minimum level of risk to the local government.

Transaction structuring

Because there was a desire to maintain public ownership of a centrally-located downtown block, our team evaluated the cost to the County of both fee simple and long-term ground lease structures to preserve County ownership of land.

Partner Selection and Negotiation

Our team developed an RFP process that sought both fee simple and long-term ground lease offers, ultimately attracting eight (8) local and national development teams with competitive offers. We evaluated proposals, with a primary focus on the County’s goals, financial capability of the offerors, financial value offered, and worker protection and supported the County’s evaluation committee to make a recommendation to the County Court. Following developer selection, our team led negotiations of Exclusive Negotiating Agreement and Ground Lease

Project Outcomes:

  • Commercialized the former 1.75-acre courthouse site under a 99-year ground lease that was completely financed by private debt and equity to construct an 800,000sf mixed-use high rise
  • Created over $430 million in value for citizens over 99 years through monetization, which offset the cost of the courts facility
  • Offered new affordable housing options to Austin residents
  • Secured community benefits, including a new public plaza and support for an adjacent park
  • High-density development yielded significant tax revenue
  • County retained ownership of downtown parcel but transferred development risk