The unanimous vote halts the project that proposed a commercial campus, hospital, retail space, and single-family and multifamily housing, among other amenities. The request would have changed 23 land parcels from single-family rural zoning to planned unit development zoning with additional base zoning districts.
The development was first presented to City Council at the July 2 meeting, but planning between the city and the developer had been ongoing since October, according to Jeff Howard, a representative of the applicant, a property lawyer and a partner at McLean & Howard LLP. The request was most recently postponed July 16 and discussed at an Aug. 20 workshop.
Mayor Troy Hill initially moved to approve the zoning request with changes and exceptions. Hill said it was a good compromise to allow the developer to have entitlements and seek tenants.
Howard said the developers would oppose the initial motion and look at protest rights. Howard said to Community Impact Newspaper that the developer revised the proposal to dedicate 53 acres of land for a corporate campus, reduce the number of planned apartments to 2,950 units and create a phasing program.
After a council discussion and an executive session, City Council unanimously voted for denial. The number of apartment units, apartment styles, project phasing and the commercial-residential ratio were concerns for council.
"We all loved the pictures and the presentation from Gensler. Obviously, everybody wants that. We just wanted the PUD to align where the pictures are," Council Member Marci Cannon said.
Cameron Goodman, a city economic development managing partner, said this property is one of Leander's premier economic development properties. City staff concerns included a cap on multifamily units and the use of garden-style apartments. He said the city wanted better phasing of commercial and residential development to make it a "comprehensive mixed-use project."
"You only get one chance to do it right. So staff has been pretty consistent the entire time on saying the phasing doesn't match up with their benchmarks," he said. "We'd like to see more proportionality between the commercial and the residential so at least it's in line with the Domain or Domain-like projects. That was what was promised or at least presented."