Travis County lifts moratorium on PIDs

Site specific tax can pay for infrastructure and amenities for big developments

Austin’s Travis County Lifts Moratorium on PIDs

A photo illustration of Heman Marion courthouse (Getty, Travis County Clerk)

Large-scale developments in the Austin area just became a little easier to get off the ground.

The Travis County Commissioners Court reinstated PIDs, public improvement districts, lifting a four-year moratorium, the Austin Business Journal reported

PIDs allow counties and cities to impose additional taxes within specific geographic boundaries, to pay for things like street and sidewalk paving, landscaping, parks, security and affordable housing. 

Developers can begin submitting applications for PID agreements starting Feb. 1.

The move comes after nearly a year of review and deliberation, and the commissioners tacked on affordable housing requirements.

At least 10 percent of residential developed with PIDs in Travis County must remain affordable throughout the agreement’s duration. This adjustment aims to address soaring housing costs in Austin, which have driven residents to seek accommodation farther from the city center.

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The PID moratorium, implemented during the onset of the pandemic, was extended due to uncertainties surrounding housing and bond markets. County officials seized the opportunity to reevaluate and refine the program, the outlet said. 

Among the projects approved for PIDs before the moratorium are Presidium Group’s Velocity, a 7 million-square-foot mixed-use development near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and Dwyer Realty Companies’ Wildhorse Ranch, a 1,450-acre master-planned community outside of Manor. These developments underscore the role PIDs play in building infrastructure and amenities for communities.

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The reinstatement of PIDs signals a proactive step by Travis County in supporting growth and addressing housing affordability concerns, heralding potential opportunities for future development initiatives.

In another move to address Austin’s affordability crisis, Austin City Council recently approved the HOME Initiative, which is meant to amend the land development code, allowing for more diverse housing options. Phase one of HOME calls for changes such as allowing up to three housing units on single-family zoned properties. 

—Quinn Donoghue