Council Takes First Step To Build Affordable Housing On Former Home Depot Site In North Austin "There’s a swath of land in North Austin along Interstate 35 that has had many uses. It has been an orphanage, an elementary school, a Home Depot and COVID-19 testing site. Next? Maybe housing and office space. On Thursday, members of the Austin City Council agreed to enter into a contract with a real estate developer and a local public housing authority to redevelop the city-owned site in the St. Johns neighborhood. Council members voted unanimously in favor of the contract." (Audrey McGlinchy, KUT)

Travis County begins incentives negotiations with Samsung for possible $17B facility "Travis County commissioners will begin negotiations to draft an agreement with Samsung Austin Semiconductor, which seeks performance-based tax incentives to bring a $17 billion chip-making plant to the county. The company, which already has a semiconductor facility in North Austin, submitted an application for Chapter 28 economic development incentives to Travis County on June 26, county staff said." (Trent Thompson, Olivia Aldridge, Community Impact)

New photos show construction of Tesla’s Austin Gigafactory is in high gear "When a publicly traded company announces quarterly financial results, it’s frequently a humdrum affair. Not so with Tesla’s latest results. On July 26, in conjunction with the release of its second-quarter financial results, Tesla published four photos of the massive automotive factory it’s building just east of Austin. The photos show the interior and exterior of the so-called Gigafactory Texas, including an aerial view of dozens of construction workers at the site. Construction on the factory began last July and now appears to be nearing completion." (John Egan, CultureMap Austin)

Recalibrated fees for the Downtown Density Bonus Program won't be ready until fall "Developers looking to participate in the Downtown Density Bonus Program won't have to worry about another change to the program's fees until later this fall. City leaders have been retooling the Downtown Density Bonus Program in recent months to bring the popular city program up to date with current market conditions, which means higher fee requirements for added density in tower projects. Interim fee adjustments, based on formulas from 2019, were approved in May while the city continues work on recalibrating the program. That likely means another fee increase is on the way." (Kathryn Hardison, Austin Business Journal)

Is There Really a Case for Reopening Sixth Street’s Weekends to Cars? "Members of Austin City Council voted unanimously last night to pass a resolution 'relating to comprehensive strategies and immediate and longer-term actions to create a safer Sixth Street environment for all,' which directs city staff to study potential design interventions and other changes that could improve public safety in the East Sixth Street bar district that’s seen a number of recent violent incidents despite being perhaps the city’s single most heavily-policed area." (James Rambin, Towers)

Abbott Recommits To Making Sure Vaccines And Masks Aren't Mandated In Texas "Gov. Greg Abbott is doubling down on his push to ensure COVID-19 vaccines and mask-wearing remain optional in Texas. The governor issued an executive order Thursday stating no governmental entity can require anyone to receive a COVID-19 vaccine that’s approved under an emergency use authorization. (All COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S. currently fall under that use category.)" (Marisa Charpentier, KUT)

Renter protections remain in place in Austin as federal eviction moratorium ends "The federal eviction moratorium, put in place last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a pandemic protection for renters, officially expires this weekend. The impending deadline threatens to create a wave of evictions nationwide, but officials say Austin renters are safe for now." (Michelle Pitcher, Austin Business Journal)