Tempers flare over budget Belterra Village overrun

A $637,369 overrun in development of the Belterra Village retail site is leading Dripping Springs leaders to allege an Austin real estate group responsible for its construction breached contract.

As a result, the Dripping Springs City Council postponed an item that could reimburse Endeavor Real Estate group for the project’s construction.

In 2010, the city of Dripping Springs and Endeavor signed a contract that granted the real estate company an economic development grant of $2,261,480 to construct the commercial site.

But on Aug. 21, Endeavor officials said the company spent $2,898,849 to build the retail site. Daniel Campbell, principal at Endeavor, cited a 3.5 percent annual increase in costs for the overage.

However, according to the agreement, spending toward the development must have been approved by the city. Dripping Springs Mayor Todd Purcell said it was his understanding Endeavor breached contract. Purcell said the city’s legal team informed him there was a provision in the contract that any possible deviations “were supposed to come back to council,” which did not happen.

Councilmember Wade King said Endeavour tried to pull a “fast one” with the city like a weasel by not following through with the contract.

Endeavor officials insisted that the company made a mistake; however, increased costs in labor and construction was a factor in the overspending. Campbell said common labor, skilled labor and construction costs have increased by over 15 percent from 2011 to 2016.

According to the contract, Endeavor estimated that Belterra Village would create around 800 jobs and generate $793,125 per year in new sales tax revenue.

“We built one heck of a project and I don’t feel we tried to pull a fast one on the city,” Campbell said. “We aren’t asking for more money. We want to continue with the $2.2 million grant.”

Dripping Springs city staff recommended council postpone the motion to consider the reimbursements of the project, citing that there is still more administrative work that needs to be done. Council unanimously voted to table the item for the September 18 council meeting.

“You should have known better. It’s frustrating when big developers come in here and ask for forgiveness – you all are big boys,” Purcell said. “You’ve done a wonderful job with the project, but this was a contract. We’ll hold up our end. You bet we will. And we are going to be cautious with the public’s dollars.”

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