T.C. Broadnax Takes the Reins as Austin’s City Manager

  • Austin has hired a new City Manager – T.C. Broadnax.
  • Prior to this, Broadnax was the City Manager in Dallas. He was asked to resign earlier this year.
  • We hope that he will be able to improve broken City processes and make Austin a better place to live.

The City of Austin has a new sheriff in town. The City Council recently hired T.C. Broadnax as our new City Manager – tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of our ever-growing metropolis. But this appointment comes with a twist – Broadnax was recently asked to resign from his previous position as city manager in Dallas. What does this mean for Austin and its commercial real estate industry? Lets talk about it.

What does the City Manager do?

Before diving into the specifics of Broadnax’s appointment, it’s important to understand the crucial role a city manager plays. Often referred to as the “CEO” of a city, the city manager is responsible for a wide range of functions that keep the city running smoothly. This includes managing city departments, overseeing budgets, implementing council policies, and ensuring the delivery of essential services like public transportation, sanitation, and public safety.

For us in the commercial real estate world, he also oversees the city staff that runs zoning regulations, permitting processes, infrastructure development, etc. Thus how he runs these departments and what he requires from the city staff has a huge impact on the commercial real estate world. And the business environment in general. Basically, the city council makes the rules, but the City Manager is responsible for implementing those rules and running Austin.

A Controversial Appointment: Broadnax’s Resignation from Dallas

T.C. Broadnax’s arrival in Austin is not without controversy. In February 2024, he resigned as the Dallas City Manager after being pressured by the City Council to do so. He apparently had a very rocky relationship with the Mayor and Council. This is the result of apparent vacancies in Dallas’s 911 call center and considerable delays in its building permitting office. Obviously that does not inspire confidence for coming to Austin – a city where we desperately need improvements in our permitting office. 

Broadnax also faced criticism for his response to a Dallas employee’s deletion of 8 million Police Department files. Apparently he knew about it in April but did not inform the City Council or Mayor. They only found out when the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office announced it in a memo to defense attorneys in August. Again, this kind of secrecy and attempts to hide the ball do not inspire confidence.

Potential Impact on Austin’s Commercial Real Estate

So, how might Broadnax’s appointment impact Austin’s commercial real estate market? The answer is multifaceted, with both potential benefits and drawbacks.

On the positive side, Broadnax brings a wealth of experience to the table. Having previously served as city manager in both Dallas and Tacoma, Washington, he should have a deep understanding of municipal governance. He’s also credited with spearheading economic development initiatives in Dallas, which could bode well for attracting businesses to Austin.

However, the shadow of his dismissal in Dallas looms large. I do not know all the details and have only read about it from three hours down the road. So has he learned from these mistakes? Is he going to be able to handle crisis situations, particularly those with a potential impact on infrastructure or public services? Austin has a lot of issues – and we are continuing to grow. As a result, those issues will continue to grow too. 

For example, a recent McKinsey report found there were nearly 1,500 total steps from the beginning to the end of a site plan review process. And it involves dozens of employees putting in hundreds of hours of work. And this process slows up the necessary development we need to meet our growth. 

He also will need to be open and transparent with the community – especially after allegedly not being so in Dallas. To build trust with the community, open communication will be paramount. He should actively engage with business leaders, addressing their concerns and outlining his vision for Austin’s future.

Has Broadnax learned from his past mistakes?
Will he be able to correct these and other issues and improve how the City runs? I certainly hope so. We need him to succeed. But obviously the issues in Dallas loom large. So I guess we will just have to wait and see.

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