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City of Dripping Springs to Look at Land Options for Town Center Project

Over the past several years, the City of Dripping Springs has worked with its community partners to envision an exciting and vibrant Town Center. The Town Center project will include much needed public infrastructure and civic space and may include commercial development opportunities that are complementary to the planned civic uses. Those partners include Hays County, the Dripping Springs Community Library, and the Dripping Springs ISD (DSISD).


A key component to this Town Center vision is land that is currently owned by DSISD. City, County and Library officials are in agreement with the Town Center concept and the nature of the City’s proposed terms for a real estate agreement with DSISD. However, after lengthy negotiations and multiple proposals, DSISD rejected the most recent proposal from the City at its board of trustees meeting on February 22, 2021, citing a disagreement on the scope of the land to be included and its desire for a restriction on how the land would be used.


As part of the agreed-upon concept plan, the land had long been programmed to include needed right-of-way and property to ensure connectivity and access for the Town Center, as well as a modest and complementary commercial element. In light of the disagreement on these basic issues, at its meeting on March 9, 2021, the Dripping Springs City Council voted to send notice of termination of the May 2020 Interlocal Agreement that called for the parties to enter into real estate agreements related to the Town Center Project. Staff has also been directed to look at other land options for the project. The School District, on March 29, 2021, similarly voted to terminate the Interlocal Agreement of May 2020.


“I was disheartened by the School District’s decision to vote down our latest proposal in February,” said Mayor Pro Tem Taline Manassian. “We all have been at the table for years with a goal of creating a destination for our community, while addressing our outdated public infrastructure and makeshift spaces for local programming. However, informal discussions with the School District continue, and, if they are not fruitful, we have other great options we can consider. We are confident that we can deliver an exciting and robust Town Center in another area of Dripping Springs.”


The Town Center project is funded through the use of one of the City’s most important economic development tools, a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ). A TIRZ is often used by rapidly growing cities to provide critical public improvements, civic infrastructure and redevelopment incentives, which improve local economies and quality of life without increasing taxes.


The Town Center project has been talked about publicly and with all the partners for years. Through TIRZ board meetings, public meetings, and City Council meetings, along with ongoing media coverage, the vision for the project, as well as a preliminary project plan and financing plan have been thoroughly vetted.


“Since 2016, the City has been working toward a Town Center,” said Manassian. “We made a commitment to the community for this signature project, and I look forward to continuing to work with the County and Library to deliver a community space that is consistent with our vision but in a different location or configuration.” 


Other Town Center partners also expressed their disappointment with DSISD’s decision and agree it’s time to look at other locations or configurations.


“I’m disappointed at the decision of the ISD,” said Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith. “The Library and City have both made true commitments to their community partners in this endeavor for the future of Dripping Springs, and the County will continue to support these efforts.”


“The Library was disappointed to learn that the school district decided not to move forward with the long-planned Town Center location at this late stage in the planning process. However, we remain committed to securing an alternative building site for a new, larger facility that is centrally-located in Dripping Springs,” said Missy Atwood, president of the Library Board of Trustees. “Along with the other Town Center partners, the Library is looking forward to meeting the needs of our growing community and contributing to our local economy.”


The TIRZ Board meets monthly with their next meeting on April 12, 2021. Next steps in the Town Center planning process will be discussed at that meeting.


For any questions, please call the City of Dripping Springs at 512-858-4725.

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