BG Reads | News You Need to Know (March 26, 2019)



Austin FC picks construction manager for $240M Major League Soccer stadium (Austin Business Journal)

A Dallas-based construction firm has been selected to build the home for Austin's first major league sports team.

Austin Commercial is the construction manager for the 20,500-seat soccer stadium for Austin FC, the Major League Soccer franchise that will kick off its first season in 2021.

The March 25 announcement is a significant step for Precourt Sports Ventures LLC in assembling the development team that will create a soccer park and stadium at McKalla Place, a city-owned site south of The Domain…

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UT will use geofencing to limit e-scooter speed to 8 mph on campus this week (Austin Monitor)

Riders using rented scooters on the 40 Acres will no longer be able to go faster than 8 mph, according to UT Austin.

The university said Bird, Jump, Lyft and Lime’s e-scooters will have speed restrictions on the lion’s share of the UT campus starting today. The decision comes at the suggestion of a campus safety group and was done in cooperation with the providers.

The entire UT campus will be geofenced, and its more populated inner campus will have a lower speed threshold of 8 mph. Northern and eastern stretches of campus, as well as the area around the Dell Seton Medical Center, will have a geofenced speed limit of 15 mph.

In its announcement, UT advised riders to keep in mind the scooters’ possible speed change when transitioning from geofenced areas…

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Cousins-TIER merger would create a huge office landlord in Austin (Austin Business Journal)

Atlanta-based Cousin Properties will acquire Dallas-based TIER REIT Inc. in an all-stock deal expected to close in the third quarter.

The combined company would become one of the largest office landlords in both downtown Austin and The Domain on the north side.

TIER (NYSE: TIER) is one of the busiest real estate developers in Austin, with 1.3 million square feet of office space under development or delivered in 2018, according to the latest Austin Business Journal data dive. It’s a big player at The Domain where it owns more than 1.5 million square feet of offices, including buildings under development.

TIER managed 2.8 million square feet of office space in the Austin area as of January, according to ABJ data. Cousins (NYSE: CUZ) is less active with new development, delivering 358,000 square feet of office space locally in 2018. But the company owns about 1.9 million square feet of office space in Austin, from downtown towers such as One Eleven Congress and Colorado Tower to the suburban Research Park Plaza V.

Cousins is developing a 32-story office tower with 390,000 square feet at 300 Colorado St. with Riverside Resources Corp. and Ironwood Real Estate. Parlsey Energy leased 87 percent of the building…

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Gov. Greg Abbott, Speaker Bonnen dismiss need for special session to pass tax relief (Dallas Morning News)

Two of the state's top leaders believe lawmakers can fulfill their promises this year without working overtime, pushing back on speculation that a special session might be needed to enact serious property tax relief.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen both said there's time enough to finish legislative work before lawmakers are scheduled to gavel out on May 27. Their statements come the day after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged the Legislature to stay in Austin if it does not pass a "substantial" tax relief bill by then.

"Both the House and Senate have already made great strides in addressing big issues that will reform school finance and property taxes," Abbott spokesman John Wittman told The Dallas Morning News. "And the governor knows the legislature can complete this work in the regular session."…

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State monitor orders Houston school trustees to halt superintendent search, according to reports (Texas Tribune)

Houston school trustees were ordered Monday by a state monitor to halt their search for a superintendent just days before they were expected to announce a finalist for the position, according to area news outlets.

Houston Public Media reported that the directive came from a state-appointed conservator whose oversight responsibilities of Texas’ largest school district were also expanded Monday.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath sent Houston school officials a letter detailing an expanded role for the conservator, Doris Delaney, according to the news outlet. Her duties now include “attending board meetings and overseeing the district’s governance,” according to the letter Houston Public Media posted Monday…

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Autonomous-car pilot program ends in Frisco, but rolls on in another North Texas suburb (Dallas Morning News)

For about eight months, a fleet of bright orange self-driving vans have been rolling around Frisco. The autonomous vehicles — and the pilot run by Silicon Valley-based — will be permanently parked on Friday.

The city of Frisco announced today that the autonomous vehicle pilot is ending. When it launched in late July, it became the first self-driving car service on public roads in Texas. The approximately 10,000 people who work in Hall Park, a large office campus in the suburb, could request a free ride in an app…

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Impeachment Just Got Less Likely And 6 Other Takeaways From The Barr Letter (KUT)

There were two headline "principal conclusions" out of Attorney General William Barr's publicly released letter to Congress about the now-concluded Russia probe conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller:

  1. It "did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election."

  2. Mueller's report "did not draw a conclusion" about whether President Trump obstructed justice in the investigation, but "it also does not exonerate him." Mueller deferred to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on whether they thought charges would be appropriate, and Barr contended "the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."

After a 22-month investigation, the four-page letter is being viewed far differently by Democrats and Republicans, is almost certainly not the end of the story and will go down in political history…

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Episode 39: Brand Building and Entrepreneurship with Drew Hanish, Principal and Co-Founder, PRAVO Construction

(Run time - 15:57)

On today’s episode we speak with Drew Hanish, Principal and Co-Founder of PRAVO Construction, and Austin-based general contracting firm.

Nearly three years old, PRAVO came to our attention through its innovative thinking about its brand. This includes hiring a Head of Brand and Content Creation, as well as its their white papers and employee investment through PRAVO University.

Drew and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss some of the issues and policy concerns relevant to general contractors in Austin, and also delve into defining a firm’s brand and its importance, particularly with relatively new to a market.

The latter portion of their discussion is applicable to entrepreneurs, new businesses, and even established firms looking for market differentiation…

Link to Episode 39


Bingham Group Joins NEXTLAW Public Affairs Network

The Bingham Group, LLC is pleased to announce today it has joined the Nextlaw Public Affairs Network. Sponsored by Dentons, the largest law firm in the world, this global network includes 60 public affairs and public relations firms spanning 100 countries. In addition to connecting leading public affairs firms with one another, the platform will also connect over 27,000 lawyers across 550 law firms that are members of the Nextlaw Referral Network.  The Public Affairs Network is designed to become the largest, most versatile network of its kind in the world…

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The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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