San Marcos City Council approves student housing project, parkland dedication

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A 6–1 vote by the San Marcos City Council on June 18 will pave the way for a developer to build a 1,112-bedroom student housing project near the intersection of Craddock Avenue and Wonder World Drive.

Capstone Collegiate Properties will develop 46 acres and will dedicate 95 acres of the property—known as the Buie Tract—for public parkland next to the city’s 570-acre Purgatory Creek Natural Area.

Capstone is purchasing the land from Craddock Avenue Partners, which had negotiated an agreement with the city in 2009 to develop the entire property as multi- and single-family homes. With the property changing hands, the city was able to negotiate a better agreement, council members said.

“This is the best change we can make,” Councilman Wayne Becak said. “We’ve done about as good a job, thanks to staff’s help, to [improve]a really bad agreement with a lot of density. It would be nice if we could just take this thing and scrap it and start over, but we can’t.”

In the first phase of construction, Capstone is authorized to build 194 units with 899 bedrooms on 33 acres. In the next phase, it may build up to 71 units with 213 bedrooms on nearly 13 acres, under terms of the agreement.

The City Council held a number of public hearings this spring as city staff negotiated with Capstone to reduce the density of the project, increase the amount of donated parkland and provide shuttle service for Texas State University students. Numerous residents voiced opposition to the project, saying it would harm an ecologically sensitive area and encroach on established neighborhoods.

Councilwoman Kim Porterfield said clustering a dense development in one area of the property is more environmentally sound than developing the entire tract as single-family homes. She added that San Marcos residents should stop discriminating against students, who make up a substantial share of the city’s population.

“We need to work together to solve these problems,” she said. “End this us-versus-them and this hatred and this really bad feeling that I get listening to people talk about how students are ruining our neighborhoods and ruining our lives, because I just don’t believe it.”

John Thomaides was the lone council member who voted against the new agreement.

“If this were 899 retired people, I would have voted against it,” he said. “It’s time, in my opinion, to start developing single-family homes in a way that is consistent and respectful to the surrounding natural environment.”

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