After a month-and-a-half of mediation between the developer of The Grove at Shoal Creek project proposal and the neighborhood group originally in opposition to the project, the two sides reached a deal Sunday on how best to develop the 75-acre plot of Central Austin land.
The planned unit development, or PUD, agreement paves the way for more than 1,500 housing units, retail shops and office space to be developed on the piece of land formerly owned by the Texas Department of Transportation.
The deal follows a nearly two-year debate over the effect of the development as originally proposed. The agreement reached during city-enforced mediation between the developer, AGR Bull Creek Ltd., and the neighborhood group in opposition, the Bull Creek Road Coalition, comes only two days before Austin City Council votes on the development at a special called council meeting Tuesday.
Both sides hail the agreement as a successful compromise. The deal calls for expanded park development, affordable housing and traffic infrastructure improvements.
In a statement released Monday morning, Garrett Martin, owner of AGR Bull Creek Road Ltd., said he was “grateful” the two sides reached an agreement and the project can move forward consensually.
“The Grove will have the opportunity to be a source of unity and consensus moving forward despite all of the various viewpoints that have been expressed throughout this process,” Martin said. “We’re excited to have reached thus point with the help of a strong support from our neighbors and other community members who agree that Austin needs The Grove to help address the city’s growing affordability and mobility challenges.”
In a statement posted on its website, the Bull Creek Road Coalition said while not every advocated amendment was made, its members are satisfied with the agreed upon result.
“After countless hours, marathon meetings and many late nights, the Bull Creek Road Coalition is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached,” the group said in a statement. “While this agreement is conditional … we are hopeful that the City will provide this support and that BCRC and (the developer) can move to a phase of collaboration and cooperation in the execution of the agreement.”
The project will now go in front of City Council for the second reading during a special called meeting Tuesday. If approved Tuesday, the proposal will advance to its third and final reading at the Dec. 15 council meeting.
Key players told Community Impact Newspaper in a November article that The Grove at Shoal Creek, currently one of the city’s largely state-owned, unzoned properties, could be a harbinger for how future developments are handled.
Highlights of the new agreement:
- Housing unit caps: The 650 apartment unit cap was removed, and the sides agreed on 1,515 residential units with a 25 percent increase in available affordable housing units.
- Square footage caps: Office space was reduced by 25,000 square feet to 185,000 square feet, and retail was reduced by 10,000 square feet to cap any such development at 140,000 square feet. The single retail tenant cap was reduced to 35,000 square feet, and cocktail lounge size was capped at 10,000 square feet, a reduction of 33 percent.
- Neighborhood development: There were greater restrictions put on development within 75 feet of Bull Creek Road, adjacent to the Oakmont Heights neighborhood. A 25-foot setback is required and the maximum height for development is 35 feet. There is also a maximum of two attached units—for example, a duplex instead of a four-plex.
- Traffic impact: The Jackson Avenue connection to 45th Street is eliminated. The original proposal would have required two existing homes to be demolished in order to build the connecting street. They also agreed to reduce the trip cap by 1,000 trips.
- Traffic Safety: $1.3 million will be invested into traffic mitigation and safety. This will include the construction of sidewalks, traffic circles, speed tables and crosswalks.
- Drainage analysis and mitigation: An analysis will be conducted to assess the effect development will have on drainage. Along with a drainage easement that will be implemented between proposed and existing development, the developer will also place $50,000 in an escrow account to be used for future claims [if any] related to drainage affected by The Grove.
- Emphasis on parks: Parkland development will be increased to roughly 14.5 acres. Parkland management will also include a management committee with two neighborhood representatives .
- Noise ordinances: For outdoor amplified noise, the cut off will be 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.