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Texas Facilities Commission Groundbreaking

September 28, 2017

Former President George H. W. Bush, who used the phrase “a thousand points of light” to describe ordinary people working to improve their communities, was praised as a “supernova” of public service Thursday as state officials heralded the imminent start of construction on a $581 million project north of the Capitol that will include a building named in his honor.

Bush’s grandson — Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush — spoke during the event and said the former president, 93 and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, wasn’t able attend. The elder Bush’s spokesman previously said he would be in Maine on Thursday.

The initial phase of the planned state office complex includes two new buildings, above- and below-ground parking and a pedestrian-friendly green space stretching along what is now Congress Avenue from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 16th Street. It’s expected to be completed by late 2021.

The Texas Legislature has so far declined to fund a $357 million, second phase of the project that’s on the drawing board. It would include two additional state office buildings, more parking and completion of the so-called “Texas Mall” promenade to 15th Street.

Still, those on hand for Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking said phase one will transform the area immediately north of the Capitol into an attraction. Actual construction is expected to begin soon, officials said, once permitting is complete.

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