The city of Cedar Park is looking to sell 13.411 acres in the town center for future development. City Council approved a resolution to authorize the sale contract at its May 28 meeting, but a public hearing and two council meetings are needed before the sale. Council Members Tim Kelly and Rodney Robinson voted in opposition.
The land will be sold to the city’s Economic Development Sales Tax Corp. Type A Board for $3.5 million to make the land available to new employers. The land, which is currently zoned as a town center, was approved for uses other than parkland in 2016 in a voter-approved proposition, according to City Attorney J.P. LeCompte.
Town Center resident Nate Varney said he does not support the city's decisions. He said the city is moving too fast and without speaking to the town center neighbors.
"I hope that they slow down and get some residential input," Varney said.
He said the city has shifted focus away from its promised developments at Cedar Park Town Center and is instead looking ahead to Bell Boulevard Redevelopment and the proposed Lakeline Park. He moved to the town center in 2016, and he said his neighborhood no longer looks like a town center with the construction of modern apartments, hotels and offices.
"Right now it just basically feels like houses put in the middle of a bunch of retail development," Varney said.
Need for open spaces, community involvement
Varney said the last thing the Cedar Park Town Center needs is another office building. There are plenty of other areas where offices can be built, he said.
While the town center has close proximity to entertainment, restaurants and retail centers around them, Varney said the residents need more park areas.
At the June 1 Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #1 board meeting, Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale said Cedar Park Town Center residents are close to the Cedar Park Recreation Center, The Parke, Costco, H-E-B Center, 1890 Ranch, a hospital and other large commercial areas in a 1-mile radius.
"Everything he named was retail," Varney said in response to Van Arsdale. "He didn't name any open space at all."
Shannon Wills, a Cedar Park Town Center resident, said she moved into the neighborhood to be close to the core of Cedar Park. The proximity allows her son, who has autism, to walk to work, entertainment and shopping since the city does not have public transportation.
Wills hoped the open green spaces would be developed similar to the paths around the ponds since her son is limited to nearby pocket parks.
"He's not able to get to the to other big parks—Milburn and Veterans Park," she said. "So he's kind of stuck here with the with the green space as parkland."
Wills said the city has not involved the neighborhood in the town center's developments or city decisions. She said the city has the right to sell the land, but residents should have a say in what is developed next to their homes. She said some residents may leave as a result.
"It's kind of distressing that the city is going to sell that land, and the residents have no input on what's going to go in there," she said.
'Wind down this TIRZ'
The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #1 board, which comprised the Cedar Park City Council, voted 5-0 to dissolve the board at a June 1 meeting. Council reappointed its members to the board in a June 1 special-called meeting. Council Members Dorian Chavez and Rodney Robinson were absent.
The TIRZ board met June 1 for the first time since April 26, 2012. The board was created in December 2001 for the Cedar Park Town Center area, according to the city. The reinvestment zone included 470 acres in the area bounded by RM 1431, Toll 183A, New Hope Road and a railroad.
At the board meeting, City Manager Brenda Eivens said the TIRZ #1 board was created so taxes generated from the TIRZ could be put into an account that pays reimbursable items. As a result, 80% of ad valorem taxes reimbursed a list of negotiated and reimbursed expenses, which included bridges, landscaping, the clock tower and other items.
"I know that I've been on a number of different councils in the last six years, and all of them have been unquestionably moving towards ending the TIRZ," Van Arsdale said at the TIRZ meeting.
The board also approved $1.11 million settlement and release agreement with developer Continental Homes of Texas, or DR Horton, for outstanding reimbursements from the TIRZ #1 revenue, according to city documents. City Council approved May 28 for the city to pay the outstanding reimbursements. The approval also terminated the development agreement, which was the last of two developer agreements.
"When I take a step back and I look at the 10,000-foot view of Cedar Park and where we're going in Lakeline Park and Bell Boulevard and what's going on in those areas, then I think its the best interest to wind down this TIRZ and enter in the settlement agreement," said Council Member Micheal Guevara.