Huston-Tillotson University President and CEO Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has been named the 2021 Austinite of the Year by the Austin Chamber of Commerce for her work expanding the school and city leadership.
As the highest annual honor the Chamber awards, Burnette will be recognized at a March 9 “Cheers to the Year” event. The awardee is chosen by the board chair and the president and CEO of the Austin Chamber.
“I am deeply appreciative and eternally grateful to be the recipient of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Austinite of the Year award,” Burnette said. “To be recognized in this way is a highlight of my life.”
As she heads into retirement later this year, Burnette is credited with increasing funding for Huston-Tillotson University—a private historically Black university—by more than 55%. Burnette was also able to tackle some of the items on the deferred maintenance list, including remodeling the King-Seabrook Chapel and erecting the first new building on campus since 1974.
Additionally, Burnette is responsible for some partnerships with major companies: Apple partnered with HTU for its African American Male Teacher Initiative and created a manufacturing engineering curriculum and a career progression internship alongside Tesla.
“Upon moving to Austin to serve as the sixth president and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University, I unknowingly embarked upon a wondrous journey that would forever change my life in the most extraordinary, impactful and unimaginable ways,” Burnette said. “I have experienced firsthand the magic of a city of people collectively leaning in to do the hard work necessary to build a beloved community for all—even when it gets hard and uncomfortable to do so.”
Burnette’s activism stretches far beyond the university—the HTU president has also served as a co-chair for the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, chair for the Central Texas Collective for Racial Equity and treasurer for the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas.
Burnette continues to serve on boards and committees for the Greater Austin Area Black Chamber, North American Association of Methodist Schools, Austin Community Foundation, IDEA Schools, Frontier Bank, Greater Austin Urban League , Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Advisory Council, Urban Roots Advisory Council and Waterloo Greenway Board.
“Throughout (Burnette’s) tenure as President and CEO, she has worked tirelessly to ensure the students, faculty and staff have economic opportunities that help drive our community’s achievements,” Austin Chamber president and CEO Laura Huffman said. “She has played an integral role in the development of Austin’s higher education system, particularly for Austinites of color, and although she is retiring from this role, we know her energy, intellect and influence will be fundamental to Austin’s growth for years to come.”
The celebration will take place at the Austin Marriott Downtown on March 9, starting at 4:30 p.m. General admission will cost $125 per ticket.
The FTA announced the funding round on Thursday, which dispersed $11 million across 12 states and 20 projects. The money is meant to connect communities to affordable transit and housing through the FTA Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development planning.
CapMetro said the funds will go toward projects at eight stations spanning 6.5 miles on the South end of the Orange Line, which has a total of 22 stations. The full project stretches across the 20 miles from Southpark Meadows to Tech Ridge.
Republic Square station is along the Orange Line. (Project Connect rendering)
Once it’s complete, which officials estimate will be in 2028, the Orange Line will reach the following stations:
- Tech Ridge (Park & Ride)
- North Lamar International District
- The Triangle
- UT campus
- Republic Square
- Auditorium Shores
- South Congress
- Southpark Meadows (Park & Ride)
A $500 million mixed-use development spanning 1,400 acres is coming to Southeast Austin, near Tesla’s headquarters at Giga Texas.
Plans for the development by Houston-based real estate firm Hines include 2,500 houses along with multi-family and townhomes, and commercial land. Hines is partnering with Trez Capital, Sumitomo Forestry and Texas-based Caravel Ventures.
The development, which is known as Mirador, will be located off the 130 Toll and Highway 71, which the developers say provides easy access to the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 racetrack and other Austin attractions like restaurants, parks and live music venues.
Hines also boasts amenities like a 60-acre lake, over 600 acres of greenbelt, community parks, trails and a swimming pool.
“As Austin continues to grow into the tech epicenter of Texas, coupled with a supply-constrained market, the demand for new housing is at its highest,” Dustin Davidson, managing director at Hines, said. “Mirador will be critical in providing more options for Austin’s growing population and we are excited to work alongside our partners given they each provide a unique and valued perspective in single-family development.”
The local housing market has been hot in recent years, with home sales accelerating earlier in the pandemic. In July 2021, the Austin metro area hit its pricing peak at $478,000. As Austonia previously reported, the area has been expected to see the Tesla effect, with the new workforce driving up demand for housing and other services.
The single-family houses are expected to be developed over the course of six years, in phases. Construction on the homes is expected to start this year and home sales will begin in 2023.
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