This move comes as both cities attempt to balance residential and commercial development.
Two recent projects in progress are The Bell District in Cedar Park and Northline in Leander.
“In the next 10 years, Leander is a thriving, vibrant diverse community,” Mayor Christine DeLisle said. “We have a lot going for us that makes us attractive commercially, so I think this is the time.”
Leander is about halfway built out, City Manager Rick Beverlin said, and there is still a lot of opportunity to develop. However, because of constraints on the city’s water treatment capacity, Leander is slowing residential development.
Meanwhile, with Cedar Park 80% built out, the city is looking to “fill in the gaps” with commercial development, Mayor Jim Penniman-Morin said.
“We have a lot of single-family already, and if you want to be a city that is a live, work and play city, you’re going to need those missing places,” he said. “You’re filling in with more employers; you’re filling in with more commercial space.”
Leander limits dense residential
In October, Leander City Council approved an ordinance limiting zoning requests that add residential or increase the density of residential.
This decision came in response to the city’s water capacity, Beverlin said. He said if the city continues to add historic levels of residential development and is forced to rely solely on its local water treatment plant—as it was when a recent repair took the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority plant offline in late September—the city may not be able to keep up with water demand.
The ordinance, which is effective until some of the BCRUA’s expansions are completed in 2028—prioritizes single-family homes and encourages water conservation.
Until local water projects come online, council will be intentional about approving residential developments, DeLisle said. The first increase in Leander’s water capacity is anticipated in summer 2025, according to city documents.
“We have the plans for the future treatment capacity, but ... these things take time,” DeLisle said.
The ordinance also allows the city to catch up commercially, officials said. In Leander, residential developments are outpacing commercial developments by five to seven years.
Officials in Leander are trying to avoid the city becoming a “bedroom community,” or a suburb mainly populated by people who commute to a nearby city for work.
Beverlin said the amount of dollars originating in Leander that are being spent in other cities, such as Cedar Park, Georgetown, Round Rock and Austin, is significant.
“Being a pure bedroom community is really not sustainable as a long-term strategy, and I think that even our [comprehensive] plan, land-use plan and everything else really envisions that we would not be,” he said.
Leander has three key commercial developments that are headlined by Northline, a 116-acre mixed-use project. Northline founder and developer Alex Tynberg said the development aims to be a one-stop shop.
“That’s really a big focus of ours to create this true central destination that is lacking at this point in the city,” Tynberg said.
Leander is also expecting Crystal Village and Leander Springs.
Centered in the 78-acre Leander Springs project is Crystal Lagoon, an outdoor pool and beach. Valued at $1 billion, the mixed-use development will also have a hotel and conference center component. Construction on the multifamily portion on Crystal Village began in June 2021. Confirmed businesses include QuikTrip, Southside Market & Barbeque, Culver’s, and Sprouts Farmers Market. Though these developments have residential components, they are mostly commercial and will positively affect the local economy, officials said.
“We’re looking at what’s really becoming Leander’s turn for things. ... I think we’re going to see the return on those commercial developments increase quite a bit in the next several years,” DeLisle said.
Building out Cedar Park
Although Leander still has a lot of land to be developed, its neighbor Cedar Park does not.
While Cedar Park has no formal ordinance limiting residential growth, officials have been looking at development through a commercial lens.
Council Member Mel Kirkland said the city has been building subdivisions for the last 15-20 years. Still, the city can accommodate all of the planned developments and redevelopments to come due to long-term planning.
Kirkland said his hope is for Cedar Park to become a hub for western Williamson County.
“Not every resident wants the same thing, so we need to have a variety of different services across our community,” he said.
Cedar Park City Council has approved five anticipated commercial developments with four of them more than 50 acres in size.
The Bell District, billed as Cedar Park’s new central gathering space, will include high-density residential units with retail, restaurants and other commercial uses, according to the city.
Work on infrastructure for The Bell District began in 2022, with the first vertical construction—including that of the new public library—beginning in 2023.
While the project is slated to take about 15 years to fully complete, construction on Bell Park and the first residential building are also set to begin in late 2023, according to the project’s developers, RedLeaf Properties.
As part of an upcoming super-regional destination center, NFM, a home store previously known as Nebraska Furniture Mart, will anchor a 117-acre project located near the H-E-B Center. In addition to the retailer, the development will include a 250-room hotel, a 30,000-square-foot convention center and additional commercial space.
Highly anticipated by city officials and residents, Indigo Ridge has also been approved in Cedar Park. The development will be anchored by the headquarters for the United States Tennis Association Texas.
“[Indigo Ridge’s developers] have been continuing to work, and they’ve bought more land, and they expanded that footprint, and so we’re kind of waiting for them to come back with their concrete plan,” Penniman-Morin said at the 2022 State of the City on Dec. 14.
Baseball scouting company Perfect Game is also bringing its headquarters to Cedar Park. Another business relocating its headquarters to Cedar Park is home shopping network Shop LC.
NFM and Shop LC are each expected to bring roughly 700 jobs to the city.
“Cedar Park just has a great reputation. ... When we say we’re in Cedar Park, that has a lot of meaning for that talent,” Shop LC Director of Logistics Dave Loucks said.
Planning for the population
Over the next few years, Cedar Park is expected to see steady population growth, while Leander’s population is projected to boom.
Cedar Park’s build-out population is approximately 128,000 people, Assistant City Manager Chris Copple said, and the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction are now at about 104,000 people. Copple said the city still has 400-500 acres of land reserved for residential development.
“People live in Cedar Park because they want to be a part of our community—a full-service community that’s got a place for everybody,” Penniman-Morin said. “All we’re doing is making sure the city grows in a way to facilitate that.”
Meanwhile, Leander is preparing for a substantial population increase in the coming years. By 2028, the city said its population of 82,000 is projected to reach 120,000.
Kat Howell, a long-term Leander resident and town historian, said with all of the growth Leander is expecting, the infrastructure should match up with it.
“There is going to be more growth whether we want it or not. We’re not a small town anymore,” she said.
DeLisle said Leander will blossom in the next five to seven years. By then, water capacity will be increased, and commercial development will have caught up.
“I do believe sincerely that we’re in the best position we’ve ever been now to take that next step into the commercial and retail arenas,” Beverlin said.
Between Cedar Park and Leander, there are eight notable commercial developments underway. Northline in Leander and The Bell District in Cedar Park are two of the largest in each community that are under construction.
Address: 400 Northline St., Leander
Description: Envisioned as Leander's new downtown district, the mixed-use center will be a walkable hub with retail, office, health care, public space and residential offerings. Multifamily and townhome developments are under construction.
Space: 116 acres
Construction start: 2020
Anticipated completion: multiple year/phased completion
Situated on 65 acres, the development will bring multifamily housing and commercial business.
Construction start: 2021
Anticipated completion: TBD
Leander Springs/Crystal Lagoon
This mixed-use development is centered around an outdoor beach and hotel.
Construction start: TBD
Anticipated completion: TBD
The Bell District
This is along Bell Boulevard between Buttercup Creek Boulevard/Brushy Creek Road and Park Street.
Description: The mixed-use project is designed to be a place residents can meet to shop, dine and spend time together. It will feature restaurants, retail, high-density residential units and the new public library.
Space: 50 acres
Construction start: 2022
Anticipated completion: 2024 (Phase 1)
This development will have the United States Tennis Association Texas headquarters.
Construction start: TBD
Anticipated completion: TBD
NFM anchored development
This super-regional destination will also include the city's first full-service hotel and convention center.
Construction start: late 2023/early 2024
Anticipated completion: 2026
The 110-acre project will house the baseball scouting company, bringing players and their families to the city.
Construction start: 2024
Anticipated completion (of baseball complex): 2025
The home shopping network will begin construction of its headquarters this year.
Construction start: early 2023
Anticipated completion: mid-2024