City of Austin again moving to annex Circuit of the Americas

The City of Austin is again considering annexing Circuit of the Americas, the racetrack under construction in southeastern Travis County that is scheduled to host a Formula One race in November.

Council members on Thursday are expected to set public hearings for Oct. 11 and Oct. 18 on annexing 1,587 acres, most of which is owned by the circuit, including about 200 acres just north of Elroy Road that were purchased in July.

The rest is state-owned land and a privately held parcel used for agriculture that lie between the circuit's land and the city limits, according to city documents. The city must annex the state land and private parcel to annex the circuit, as cities can only annex contiguous land.

The city had considered annexing the circuit property last year but backed off after deciding it made more to sense to wait until the land was further developed, a city spokesman said at the time. The move to put the annexation on hold, last November, also happened amid questions about whether financing for the track was in jeopardy.

"Things are a little farther along now," said Jackie Chuter, senior planner for the city. "We try to annex most of the development around the city, and commercial development is particularly advantageous."

Annexation extends the city's regulatory authority on the site and will add the track to its tax rolls.

The circuit property was valued at $14.3 million in 2010, with a taxable value of $3 million. This year, the assessed value is $92.2 million, and taxable value is $80.7 million.

Presumably, the value will increase next year, once the track is complete. Circuit officials have estimated it will cost $300 million to build the track and related facilities.

Several structures are nearing completion, including the main grandstands and pit and paddock building, and the racing surface, parking lots and access roads are almost fully paved. The first F1 race is scheduled for Nov. 16-18.

The cost of annexation, including notifying owners, varies by site but is typically $1,000 to $2,000, Chuter said.

After annexation, the city would be obligated to provide services such as fire and police protection as well as water and wastewater.

Austin Energy paid for a new, $2.9 million substation near the track on 2.1 acres donated by the circuit. One-third of the electricity from that substation will go to the track using a distribution line paid for by the circuit.

The council must approve the annexation and hopes to do so by the end of the year, Chuter said. The Statesman

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