City of Austin to reimburse F1 developer The Austin City Council cast its first vote Thursday related to Formula One, unanimously agreeing to reimburse developers of the planned racetrack $13.5 million to install large water and sewer lines on and near the site.
Plans have been submitted to build the track on about 900 acres near Elroy in southeastern Travis County. Local promoter Tavo Hellmund intends to hold Grand Prix races from 2012 to at least 2021 , making Austin the first U.S. city to stage such races since Indianapolis in 2007.
When developers ask the city to extend water and sewer service to their projects, the city routinely asks them to install oversize lines in anticipation of future growth. It then reimburses them part or all of the cost, recouping the money over time as new residents and businesses pay water and sewer charges, said Austin Water Utility Assistant Director David Juarez.
That is what will happen with F1, Juarez said, adding that the project is not receiving special treatment. In the past five years, the city has agreed to reimburse 27 projects part or all of the cost of installing water and sewer lines, he said.
A few council members were careful to say Thursday that they were not voting for or against the race course itself. "For me, this is not a vote on whether Formula One happens, but whether we control the water system where Formula One happens," Council Member Laura Morrison said.
Land Accelerator , a development company associated with the F1 project, is trying to get city and county approvals for the race track by the end of the year to begin the first phase of construction: grading the land.
The developers recently got environmental variances from the city and have only a few more permitting hurdles to clear, said Richard Suttle , an attorney representing the project. The city and county have yet to approve site plans for grading work, and the county has yet to approve a variance related to floodplain maps, he said.
F1 developers will have to pay upfront to install the lines, slated to be 24, 30 and 36 inches wide. Then the city will reimburse them 100 percent of the construction cost and some money for "soft costs," such as designing the lines, three months after the work is finished.
About 650 acres of the 900-acre Formula One site were previously planned for a 1,800 -home subdivision called Wandering Creek . In August, the City Council agreed to reimburse the developers of that project $4.4 million for water and sewer line construction if the Formula One project fell through. The agreement approved Thursday will replace that one. The Statesman
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