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AUSTIN-When the City of Austin bought a square block from Computer Sciences Corp., it bought the responsibility and opportunity of deciding what to do with it. Instead of being the site of an office building, the plan under CSC’s ownership, the field is wide open for suggestions.

Block 21, as it is called, is in a prime spot amidst the flurry of construction that is the City Hall-CSC complex. The two CSC buildings are completed and work is progressing on the new city hall as well as a neighboring apartment complex being built by AMLI Residential.

Block 21 is bounded by Second and Third streets on the south and north and Lavaca and Guadalupe streets on the east and west. It is directly north of the new city hall.

Several possible projects are looking for places to land and, under the right circumstances, Block 21 could suit each of them. Those projects are a new, larger Austin Children’s Museum and a new home for public TV station KLRU and its studios, a new central public library and a Texas Music Museum.

The public input process for Block 21 has not started, but a task force of the Downtown Austin Alliance has provided some suggestions. In five weeks of meetings, the task force developed an evaluation matrix for the block. The matrix will help frame the debate when public input begins.

The task force’s top recommendation is a dense, mixed-use development with ground-floor retail, according to Jeff Pace of CarrAmerica Realty Corp., who headed the group. The surrounding projects, except the city hall, will have retail space and it’s essential that the Block 21 property maintain the continuity, Pace tells

A combination children’s museum, retail and other cultural use scored 33 out of a possible 42 points on the task force’s matrix. The mix of retail, KLRU studios and Texas music museum totaled 32 points; retail and a hotel totaled up 30 points and retail and library had 29 points.

Task force members included architect Sinclair Black, Charles Heimsath of Capitol Market Research, Mac Pike of the Sutton Co. and Tom Terkel of Cencor Realty Services.

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