Battle over visitor parking at Austonian could be bound for court

Austin American Statesman

 

A battle over parking at a posh downtown Austin high-rise could be bound for court.

In a lawsuit filed this week in Travis County District Court, the Austonian Condominium Association accuses the tower’s developer, Second Congress Ltd., of providing “grossly inadequate” parking for visitors to the building at West Second Street and Congress Avenue.

The lawsuit, filed by the Austin-based Taylor Dunham law firm, alleges 10 percent of all spaces in the building’s garage should be unassigned and available for visitors to use – but that no spaces in the garage are currently set aside for visitors. The garage has 442 parking spaces, according to court documents, which means 44 spots should be set aside for visitors, the plaintiffs claim.

Austonian representatives did not respond to a message from the American-Statesman seeking comment.

While there is currently no parking requirement for downtown Austin projects, city code did include such requirements in 2007 when plans for the Austonian were approved, city of Austin spokeswoman Sylvia Arzola told the Statesman on Thursday.

In documents provided by the city, developers of the Austonian indicated “at least 10 percent of the total parking spaces on the site must be unassigned spaces which are available for the use of visitors.”

“The residents of the Austonian simply want the visitor parking they are entitled to under the city of Austin code,” Jeff Taylor, co-counsel on the case along with Don Taylor, told the Statesman. “We believe that requires 10 percent of the parking spaces to be unassigned and open for visitors. That would be 44 parking spaces. Currently, there are zero parking spaces that meet that definition.”

Second Congress Ltd., according to the suit, has “conveyed or designated for exclusive use the right to each and every one of the 442 parking spaces in the garage.”

One unit, according to the suit, even has eight parking spaces assigned to it. Between 2007 and the present, the plaintiffs say visitor parking has slowly been whittled to nothing.

“The developer has designated many parking spaces for use only by commercial units or by residential units that the developer owns,” Jeff Taylor said. “We believe the developer has exceeded its authority under the documents that govern the condominium association.”

Filing the lawsuit comes after many months of attempts to resolve the dispute out of court, attorneys for the Austonian Condominium Association claim. The plaintiffs contend there are several easy solutions. There are, for instance, a reported 36 spaces the developer is accused of “hoarding” for conveyance to future buyers of several currently unsold condos in the building that could, in theory, be freed up.

The suit alleges breach of contract, asking the court to force compliance with visitor parking requirements in place at the time the building was constructed. Compensation for court costs and attorneys’ fees is sought, as well.

A trial date has not been set.

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