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Page 142
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 8
Runway #3, Andy's pick, angled the runway
ten degrees closer to true north.
We took a vote and decided, with modifica-
tions, that Andy's runway was our best bet.
Only one problem remained: None of the
runway layouts worked without buying the
Zschiesche farm.
Appraising the
Zschiesche Property
As far back as June, I'd given serious
thought to buying the Zschiesche property,
a 370-acre tract of land, twice the acreage I
already owned, and which wrapped around
three sides of the old airport. I sent Rick Win-
ter, Tim Casey, Tre Death an e-mail asking if
they knew of a good appraiser. I asked Tim
for additional information--legal description,
an old survey if one existed, copies of tax re-
cords, or anything else the appraiser might
need to move things along.
In September I finally signed a contract
with an appraiser, Butler Burgher, to appraise
the property. A month later I received an 18-
page appraisal document. All I cared about
was a price per acre. Page one, paragraph
three was all I needed. It said, in bold-faced
type that the Zschiesche property was worth
$9,000 to $10,000 per acre.
The fact was, I felt the number was too low.
State Highway 130 pushed property values
higher the closer the land was located to the
road. That was the general consensus among
landowners in the area. What bothered me
about the appraisal was that nearly all of the
comparable properties were nowhere near
the toll road, some as far as ten miles away.
I sent appraiser Kyle Lewallen a note out-
lining my concerns. Kyle made his case this
way. Regarding property prices near Bird's
Nest Airport, a premium didn't make any
sense because the new toll road was in effect
a parkway with no entrances, exits, or front-
age roads anywhere near the airport. State
Highway 130 was there all right, but how
exactly people traveled from the road to any
of the adjacent properties was no easy task,
hence he considered the adjacent properties
farm land and not pricey commercial property
waiting to be exploited by some savvy devel-
oper. Kyle admitted this wasn't true farther
north near Hutto, where property values on
both sides of SH130 were climbing, residen-
tial and commercial developers were buying
up land, and a property's proximity to SH130
was something to boast about, as most devel-
opers did.
The same was happening south of the air-
port in Southeast Austin, where developers
planned to hammer out 1,250 new homes
(with nearby hiking and biking trails, base-
ball fields, swimming pools, a kayak launch,
and many parks spread over 400 acres) as
well as 390,000 square feet of onsite retail and
office space--all of this activity precisely be-
cause the new toll road ran through what was
formerly a semi-worthless pasture, now strik-
ingly transformed into a valuable commercial
Claiming that land values along the stretch
of SH130 from Manor to Pflugerville Parkway
were in line with that of a pasture struck me
as a fine bit of hairsplitting.