City Council moved to reject all offers it received for the property. However, council also moved to organize a new request for proposals that will only allow proposals for residential uses, not commercial uses.
The property is currently zoned as governmental utility, with commercial developments along its southern border and residential homes to the north, west and across the street to the east.
“One concern I have heard expressed here today and on that I have is the thought of commercial creep,” Mayor Linda Anthony said. “I’ve always thought that even though some of these commercial projects that have been submitted to us are interesting, that this really should be residential.”
The new RFP could also outline more specific qualifications, such as assuring a development would fit into the city’s master plan, a minimum bid price, and possibly density restrictions. The final terms of the RFP will be determined at future council meetings, and could be posted in March.
Here are some other highlights from the meeting:
- Of the 11 proposals originally being considered, only representatives from six developers presented at the meeting. Of the six present, two—Legacy DCS and Kendell Development, Inc.—submitted residential proposals.
- During public comment, Resident Robyn Braun mentioned that nearby residents thought the city purchased the property 15 years ago as permanent green space. She was one of four residents who requested council only consider low-density residential proposals for the property. “It seems that if this property is being sold to benefit all people who live in West Lake Hills, everyone is impacted by the intersection of Bee Caves Road and Westlake Drive. The only thing I think you can do is go with a very low-density residential,” she said.
- Council Member Darin Walker said he believed a residential tract would least impact local traffic and neighbors. “We’ve heard a lot of people comment, and if the traffic impact as well as trees and sight impact from Westlake Drive is at the top of our list [of criteria], then by default you have to disregard proposals for commercial,” he said.
- Council Members Beth South and Brian Plunkett voted to include commercial uses again in the next RFP, a motion that was denied by a 3-2 council vote, with Rhonda McCollough abstaining. South said that while she believed a residential use would probably be the best option, she did not think the residential proposals would bring the city enough revenue to justify selling the property.
- Anthony said that the property had an appraised value of $1.6 million for residential use, and the commercial appraisal was about half of that number.