A state law that forbids cities from hiring real estate brokers has "hamstrung" the City of San Marcos' efforts to raise funds for the possible acquisition of Cape's Camp, city officials said Dec. 18.
Earlier this month, the City of San Marcos attempted to sell 25 acres of undeveloped land in a fast-developing commercial area along I-35. When bidding closed Dec. 13 for the property, called the Leah Tract, the high bids totaled $86,000—about 2 percent of the property's appraised value of $4 million.
"We will obviously reject all bids," City Manager Jim Nuse told council members during a Dec. 18 meeting.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero said he and other city officials would ask state lawmakers to change the law during the legislative session this spring. Texas already allows counties to hire real estate brokers, and Guerrero said municipalities should have the same options.
Council members noted that Hays County found success disposing of county-owned properties in downtown San Marcos this fall, including the former justice center, which sold in October for $1.25 million.
"We, as a city, cannot do what the county did for all their downtown properties that they sold at or above their appraised rate," Councilman John Thomaides said. "They have professionals that market those types of properties, and clearly we didn't have that same expertise.
"Cities should have the same ability to dispose of their property and get market value for it. We shouldn't be hamstrung with the process we have now."
Council members also discussed the results of a nonbinding election Nov. 6 in which 76 percent of San Marcos voters said they want the city to acquire Cape's Camp, an undeveloped property on the San Marcos River east of I-35, for parkland.
"Certainly there's interest," Guerrero said. "It's just a matter of how do we go about fulfilling that goal?"
The discussion did not require action from the council. In January, council members are scheduled to consider whether to approve a rezoning request to develop 25 acres of Cape's Camp as a 306-unit, 1,000-bedroom apartment complex.
San Marcos residents have expressed vocal opposition to the project, which received preliminary approval from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission in November.
Cape's Camp is about 70 acres in size and was appraised at about $5.5 million.