Relocation of downtown Municipal Building pushed back despite being on ‘brink of disaster’


Workers have long been concerned about health and safety issues inside the aging building.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Relocation is being delayed for the Downtown building described as being on the ‘brink of disaster.’

Operations at the Municipal Court were supposed to move to a new building on Burleson Road by the end of this year.

Now, the move has been pushed back to April 2020, due to ‘unanticipated design and construction work for the unique space needs.’

“It is a bit regrettable that we’ve had to push that back,” said Alex Gale, Interim Officer with the city’s Real Estate Office. “But we want to make sure we have all the specifications that the Municipal Court is looking for.”

Gale said the unanticipated design needs included bullet-proof windows and separate entrances for jurors and members of the public.

Employees at the Municipal Court have long been sounding the alarm about health and safety concerns inside the Downtown building.

“They would really like to get out of the building as soon as possible,” said Carol Guthrie of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “I think the city should have made this a top priority years ago.”

The building has suffered from a leaking roof, mechanical/engineering failures and a disintegrated sewer line, among other issues. 

A previous KXAN investigation highlighted concerns about potential asbestos exposures in the building.

In November of 2017 the building was closed for emergency testing of asbestos. The city said none was detected at the time.

“We know it’s unsafe, and we know it’s not a good place to be,” said Guthrie.

A longtime Municipal Court employee tells KXAN the building is not a healthy environment.

That employee also said they heard about relocation plans being delayed through a memo sent out by the city’s Real Estate Office.

The city plans to lease the new building, at 6800 Burleson Road, for 10 years, with an option to purchase it after.

“We don’t know why we haven’t been able to get this pushed to the top of the list, because it is safety first,” said Guthrie.

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