UT Eastward Expansion
Big changes may be coming to one Austin neighborhood as the University of Texas looks to expand east of I-35. The Austin American-Statesman reports that UT and the Blackland neighborhood have come to terms on the university's ambitions plans for the area between Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and East Dean Keeton Street.
If approved, the $166.4 million plan would bring graduate student housing, a parking complex and tennis courts to the area around Disch-Falk baseball field. Other UT buildings already occupying the East Campus include the McCombs softball field, the facilities complex, the UT press and more.
The Blackland neighborhood has given its approval on this new plan, but tension between the neighborhood and the university extends back to the 1980s when UT began purchasing property in the area and tearing down houses. Since then, the university has strived to remain on good terms with the Blackland neighborhood by returning some of the previously purchased property and considering the neighborhood's opinion on future developments.
Based on community feedback, UT plans to build housing on Leona Street and place tennis courts on the north side of the baseball field. "The student housing stabilizes the boundary between the neighborhood and UT, and it's compatible with the neighborhood," Bo McCarver, chairman of the Blackland Community Development Corp, tells the Statesman. "Basically, UT has accommodated everything we have asked for."
In addition to assuaging the community's worries, the new construction will create affordable graduate student housing, meet growing parking demands and fulfill the wish for a new tennis complex close to campus. The UT System Board of Regents will vote on the plan next month.