Groups Propose Planetarium for Austin

Proposal calls for mix of shops, restaurants and residences as well.

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    An Austin nonprofit and a developer are planning a $240 million, 47-story tower near the Texas Capitol that would include a planetarium, science museum and technology center.

    Austin Planetarium and developer KUD International predict the project will attract more than 600,000 visitors a year.

    The development would also be home to shops, restaurants and residences. Plans call for work to start as soon as late 2014 with completion expected by 2016.

    Developers say some funding is already lined up, but more will be needed to finish the project.

    Torvald Hessel, executive director of Austin Planetarium, tells the Austin American-Statesman, "Usually a planetarium is a city or a university project, but this is truly a grass-roots group of people saying, `We want this.'"