ROUND ROCK, TX-This fast-growing city’s “last frontier” is in line for an educational campus that could be an anchor for growth around it.
The campus, a proposal right now, would provide college-level classes for Round Rock-area residents. Southwest Texas State University is leading the effort for the campus, which requires funding from the Texas Legislature.
Southwest Texas recommended Round Rock for the campus site after receiving proposals from developers in the area. The Board of Regents of the Texas State University System, which governs Southwest Texas, authorized the university to seek funding for the project from the Texas legislature. It also directed the university to work with three real estate companies to determine the cost of such a campus.
The firms–Colliers International, Avery Farms and the Beck Group–have proposed sites for the campus, all of them in Round Rock’s northeast section. Those proposals survived from a field of nine submitted in an earlier round, according to Will Hampton, spokesman for the City of Round Rock.
“All the sites are in northeast Round Rock, which is the next frontier,” Hampton tells GlobeSt.com. “That’s where we actually have some room to grow. So we’re excited in that we think this campus will almost become an anchor tenant for that part of town.” Hampton says the campus could be an existing facility or built from the ground up.
Colliers has proposed McNeil Consumer Products Inc.’s former site at 4001 N. Interstate 35. There’s 117,076 sf on the 65-acre campus. McNeil announced earlier this year that it would shut the facility. The Beck Group has put forth two sites on Old Settler’s Boulevard. Lonnie Mahoney of the Beck Group declined to say more about the properties without permission of the landowner. Avery Farms could not be reached about its property at Chandler Street and Sunrise Road.
The campus is driven by demand in the Round Rock area and little room for Southwest Texas to grow on its main campus in San Marcos. Currently, college-level classes are taught in Round Rock in the evenings at area public schools or temporary facilities. With a larger, permanent campus, Southwest Texas could offer day classes and expand the offerings. Classes from Austin Community College and Temple College in Taylor also would be offered on the campus.
Several hurdles remain for the project. The biggest could be getting funding from the legislature. The university is considering several funding methods. One would be to create a tuition revenue bond authority. Another would be a special appropriation for Southwest Texas to cover the cost of leasing the facility from a tax-exempt foundation or other third party. Southwest Texas plans to present several options to legislators in January, when lawmakers begin their next session.