Former SAS site off Wilson Parke to host exhibits, educational programs
By LESLEE BASSMAN, Four Points News
Last month, Travis County purchased the former SAS Institute property located off RM 620 at Wilson Parke Avenue, with plans for the grounds to serve the public.
According to Public Information Officer Hector Nieto, part of the tract’s existing 3-story office building will be transformed into a Visitor Center for the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, or BCP, which is partly managed by Travis County.
He said the facility will include “interpretive exhibits about the region’s unique ecology and offer family-friendly educational programs.”
“The grounds around the building will provide opportunities for nature viewing, hiking, education and special events,” Nieto said.
Travis County purchased the building and 94 acres on Nov. 15 for $19.5 million, confirmed Nieto.
The property is surrounded by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and the new Visitor Center will offer opportunities for guided hikes onto the surrounding preserve lands, he said.
The remaining portion of the approximately 30-year-old, 60,000-square-foot building onsite will continue to be used as office space.
The project’s design process will begin in 2020 but Nieto advised that the property won’t be open to the public during this time.
Jim Smitherman, president of The Parke at Grandview Hills, is looking forward to the addition to the neighborhood.
“They’re in the job of conservation out there and they have a lot of area,” Smitherman said. “That particular site—that just makes sense.”
Resident Matt Duggan agrees.
“As a homeowner in Grandview Hills, and someone whose backyard looks onto the property, I’m thrilled that the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources department (is) taking possession and the beautiful property will be preserved,” Duggan said. “The fact that we will have the opportunity to engage with the BCP through this location is an added bonus.”
SAS relocated to its new facility in downtown Austin last year. Headquartered in Cary, NC, SAS develops and markets a suite of analytics software.
Please visit the Travis County Natural Resources website for more information (https://www.traviscountytx.gov/tnr/nr/) including the BCP-wide events calendar (https://www.traviscountytx.gov/bcpevents).
This story has been updated to include the purchase price.