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AUSTIN-Who wants to become a millionaire? Austin does, but that decision rests with voters who today will decide if elected officials can lease up to 400 acres of parkland to a hotel-golf course developer for $1 million per year.

Proposition No. 3 has garnered little attention despite its far-reaching effects to boost the city’s growth plan for the east side, Mike Killebrew, head of Henry S. Miller Commercial in Austin, tells GlobeSt.com. If passed, the city can negotiate up to a 99-year lease with Gagne Development Co. Inc., which is proposing to construct a 250-room hotel that could be expanded to 350 rooms, a 65,000-sf conference center and two 18-hole public golf courses as the heart of the project. The plan also calls for a 224-seat restaurant, 90-seat lounge, health club, tennis courts, clubhouse and pro shop, driving range and putting green.

Killebrew, who has no vested interest in the project, says Proposition 3′s passage would open up a section that literally is “a blind spot in the Austin market.” The 400 acres is positioned along on the northeast side of Lake Walter E. Long past an industrial area that “nobody looks at,” explains Killebrew. “It would do a lot for the city itself.”

The private development, which is opening 300 to 400 new jobs, requires a citizens’ vote because it involves the use of undeveloped city green space. The city would own and control land and improvements under the lease arrangement for the property situated in a preferred growth corridor. It also is near a planned north-south bypass connecting to Interstate 35, the region’s primary artery linking the Mexican border to Canada.

The developer is proposing to pay $1 million per year for a ground lease that, when coupled with other projected revenue, would push the city’s annual take to about $1.5 million. In September, Austin City Council had approved a resolution to invest 40% of the annual revenue into affordable housing. The Austin Convention Center, if Proposition 3 is passed, will realized about $900,000 annually while Austin Energy will receive about $2.8 million per year.

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