Central Park is a vibrant mixed-use, master-planned development at the intersection of 38th and Guadalupe Streets, encompassing what was once a grossly underutilized State of Texas-owned space in the heart of Central Austin. Today, it is the home of greenscapes and walking trails, a variety of retail and office spaces, a multi-family residential development, a heart hospital and the flagship location of HEB’s Central Market grocery store.
From its inception, Central Park was a highly controversial project that involved many different public and private stakeholders, each lobbying for their own disparate needs and agendas. Throughout the development process, Chris Price, as Deputy Commissioner of Asset Management for the State of Texas’ Permanent School Fund (PSF), and his team were able to collect and synthesize these needs through innovative and creative problem solving.
What ensued was a delicate negotiation of public and private points of view. When area residents expressed reluctance about bringing a big-box grocery store to the neighborhood, for example, the team helped facilitate HEB’s concept of Central Market – which offered both an attractive alternative for residents and a highly-successful retail model for HEB. When the nearby Austin State School expressed concern about pending development, PSF engaged retail owners in the space to provide jobs for its mentally impaired residents. And to make the project financially viable and to add further value to the space, the team created a master-planned development and a tree-lined trail system for both Central Park and its neighbors to stroll through and enjoy.
Together, these solutions resulted in a thriving mixed-use development that provides long-lasting value to all involved parties.
Residents were given greenspaces and amenities. HEB was given a brand new concept that has since expanded to stores across Texas. The State of Texas was given credibility in the business community for creating a financially viable and successful project from fallow state-owned land. And Chris was instrumental in a pioneering effort to create successful private-public partnerships and to balance and negotiate stakeholders’ needs – all while creating a successful and meaningful development.