The Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2022 State of the City luncheon featuring a speech from Mayor Jim Penniman-Morin on Dec. 14.
At the event, Penniman-Morin outlined the overall goals of the city, noted some of the key factors that took place in the last year and highlighted exciting projects to come in the upcoming year.
City goals mentioned in Penniman-Morin’s speech include: livability and a sense of place, economic vitality, physical excellence, service excellence, mobility and connectivity, and infrastructure and environment.
Livability and a sense of place
The two notable projects mentioned to help achieve Cedar Park’s goal of livability and a sense of place are The Bell District and Lakeline Park.
The Bell District, the city’s new mixed-use development that is intended to act as a central gathering place for residents, is under construction with buildings soon to go up.
Located along the newly realigned western section of Bell Boulevard, the development will feature restaurants, offices and retail space. The city is anticipating opening Phase 1 of The Bell District in 2024.
As part of the The Bell District development, the city’s new public library is soon to undergo construction. It is anticipated to open in late 2024.
Phase 1 of Lakeline Park, Cedar Park’s largest park at 200 acres, is set to open in January, Penniman-Morin said. The park is located in the southern part of the city off of Bell Boulevard and Little Elm Trail.
The park will feature a large multipurpose pavilion with a performance stage, zip lines for kids, a large playground, a canoe and kayak launch, sports fields, a fishing pier and 3 miles of new trails.
Design work on Phase 2 of the park is expected to begin in 2023, according to city staff.
Penniman-Morin said Lakeline Park in conjunction with other projects in the coming years will allow bikers to ride from the center of Cedar Park to Round Rock without using the roads.
Cedar Park has some large employers and businesses coming to the city in the next few years.
“We are hands down the major employment hub of Central Texas in the coming years,” he said. “We’ve made major strides ... attracting exciting businesses and retaining exciting business, which is just as important.”
Online shopping channel and network Shop LC will be building its new headquarters in Cedar Park. The company will be the city’s largest employer, Penniman-Morin said, bringing in over 1,000 jobs. The 200,000-square-foot building will be located at 1500 N. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park.
NFM, also known as Nebraska Furniture Mart, will be the anchor of the upcoming super-regional destination center located west of the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park. It will be a business hub with a lot of places to shop and eat, Penniman-Morin said.
Another major project in progress is Perfect Game, a premier baseball and softball scouting company that is also moving its headquarters to Cedar Park. Located northeast of RM 1431 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard, this development is anticipated to increase the tourist population in the city.
“You see a thriving community here, right,” Penniman-Morin said. “We have everything from beautiful parks, happy families and thriving stores.”
Service and physical excellence
In July, Cedar Park was upgraded from a AA bond rating to a AAA bond rating—the highest possible rating regarding the financial security of a municipality, Penniman-Morin said. He said Cedar Park is one of the youngest cities across Texas to receive this rating.
In the May elections, the city also passed a $158.8 million bond package, which focused on transportation, parks and recreation, and public safety.
The city also worked on defeasing debt—paying off debt early—and has paid about $13.5 million in the past six years, Penniman-Morin said, with plans to pay off another $3 million in 2023.
Additionally, in the past year, the city has worked on police and fire department improvements.
Mobility and connectivity
A few projects will be under construction in the next year.
New Hope Drive will be expanded from Ronald Reagan Boulevard to Sam Bass Road, which will allow another east to west route other than RM 1431.
The city will also be beginning construction on the Anderson Mill Phase 2 widening project in the next year.
Penniman-Morin said the city will be working on sidewalk gaps and expanding bicycle lane programs.
Infrastructure and environment
Phase 2 of the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority’s Deep Water Intake project is under construction.
This project will allow the city to pull water from the bottom of the lake, Penniman-Morin said, so even in the worst drought conditions, there will still be water coming from the Colorado River.
“It’s incredibly important for continuing the reliability of the water service that we’ve had,” he said.
The city will also continue working on a stormwater master plan, which helps older neighborhoods throughout Cedar Park receive adequate drainage. Electric vehicle integration will also continue.
On Feb. 24, the city of Cedar Park will be reaching its 50th anniversary, and there will be a variety of events throughout 2023 to celebrate.