Fate of controversial 300-unit Champion's Tract development postponed after Austin City Council vote

Neighbors of Champion's Tract have long objected to the proposed rezoning request.

Neighbors of Champion's Tract have long objected to the proposed rezoning request.

The fate of the controversial 300-unit multifamily development at the corner of RR 2222 and City Park Road was postponed on Thursday after Austin City Council decided it needed more time.

The City Council said it would come back at its next meeting Feb. 15 to make a final decision on a zoning case that, in its current edition, has taken more than a year to straighten out—the tract's zoning has been an issue since 1996. In the balance hangs the construction of a 300-unit multifamily development and the environmental protection of a 45-acre tract in Austin’s Hill Country.

The latest debate over the plot of land—known as the Champion’s Tract—has been a focus among neighbors, developers, City Council members and judges since 2016. The council originally approved the rezoning—from general office to multifamily residential—in November 2016; however, a judge late last year determined the city did not properly post the case to the public, which required a rehearing and revoting on the case.

A brief history 

Prior to the case, the city zoned the densely wooded and hilly property as general office following a court ruling in a 1996 settlement agreement. Planning and Zoning Department Assistant Director Jerry Rusthoven said in public testimony this meant a 100,000-square-foot office building could be built on the 45-acre tract.

The landowner, Champion Assets LTD, submitted a zoning change in 2015 to construct a 300-unit multifamily project on the land. In exchange, the developer said he would minimize the amount of concrete laid on the tract and committed to using only 15 acres, conserving the other 30 acres as natural green space. The council agreed to the proposed project’s environmental superiority and approved it.

Immediately following the 2016 decision, the tract was sold to 2222 Cap Texas LLC, who bought the land on the basis that the entitlements approved by the council would remain. However, after the sale, the city was sued and lost because of a posting error when the zoning case was advertised to the public. As a result, the council had to retake the case.

This time around, the council asked the Environmental Commission for help in deciding which prospective situation would be better for the environment—the 2016 zoning amendment originally approved by the council or the 1996 settlement agreement decided by the courts.

According to staff, the council’s decision in 2016 was best for the environment because the project was condensed and only took up 15 acres. If the 2016 agreement were rejected by City Council, the land’s development rules would revert back to the 1996 settlement agreement.

This scenario is worse than the 2016 agreement, according to commissioners, because the rules surrounding the development in the 1996 agreement predated many environmental policies that have been passed over the last 20 years. The rules of the tract were grandfathered in by the settlement agreement.

However, after public testimony and debate, the Environmental Commission not only rejected the 2016 zoning proposal but said the 1996 agreement was more detrimental to the environment and the city should not revert to those zoning rules. Thus, the commissioners said the council needed to renegotiate the zoning deal, which in the event of a rejection, the developer has no obligation to do and can revert to the 1996 agreement.

The council on Thursday appeared split, but after receiving new information from staff on the tract and the effects of development, the council voted 8-3 to postpone the case to Feb. 15.


MOST RECENT

City Post Chophouse opened its oyster bar and market in June. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Post Chophouse opens its oyster bar and market

Oyster bar and market open at City Post

San Marcos City Council adopted increases in property tax, utilities and the city budget for FY 2021-22 on Sept. 21. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
San Marcos City Council adopts increases in utility rates, taxes and FY 22 budget

The increase of $0.01 to the property tax rate means the council was able to adopt a budget of $260,468,834 for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The resolution will provide district employees with five additional days on top of the state-mandated 10 days of paid leave. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Comal ISD approves five days of COVID-specific paid leave

The resolution will provide district employees with five additional days on top of the state mandated 10 days of paid leave.

The facility offers Autism Diagnosis Observation testing and applied behavior analysis therapy. (Courtesy Action Behavior Center)
Action Behavior Centers opens in New Braunfels, works to support families with children on autism spectrum

The new facility offers Autism Diagnosis Observation testing and applied behavior analysis therapy.

The new pedestrian crossing signal should be completed by the end of December. (Courtesy Austin Corridor Program Office)
New pedestrian crossing signal coming to Slaughter Lane at Vinemont Drive

The new signal is a part of Austin’s initiative to improve safety and mobility in the Slaughter Lane corridor.

 Redistricting is one of the items on the Texas Legislature's third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Senate releases proposed redistricting maps as special session begins

Redistricting is one of the items on the third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18.

Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County approves fiscal year 2021-22 tax rate

The newly approved rate, paired with higher home appraisal rates, will result in an increase in taxes for many homeowners.

Williamson County Court House
Williamson County approves nonprofit funding, and other notes from Commissioners Court

Commissioners approved public funding for local nonprofits, including funding for the Williamson Museum.

Information from the city of Pflugerville states the closure is due to Phase 1 of a transportation project intended to complete an extension of Plfuger Farm Lane. (Courtesy city of Pflugerville)
Construction to close intersection at Town Center Drive and Pfluger Farm lane in Pflugerville

The $3 million project is funded by developer Lifestyle Communities. It will include adding a roundabout at Pfluger Farm Lane and Town Center Drive, and it will extend Pfluger Farm to the north.

Courtesy Baylor Scott & White
New Baylor Scott & White clinic now open on Eagles Nest Street in Round Rock

The facility is a dedicated hepatology clinic for the Greater Austin region.

August home sales in Leander decreased 28.8% from Aug. 2020. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Home sales increased in Cedar Park, slowed in Leander in August compared to 2020 data

August home sales in Leander decreased 29% from August 2020. In Cedar Park, sales increased 21% last month.

The Austin-based juice, smoothie and coffee chain was founded in 2011 by Matt Shook and has since expanded to 33 locations and counting in Dallas, Austin and Houston. (Courtesy Juiceland)
JuiceLand coming to Round Rock in November

Round Rock will be gaining its own Juiceland location in November, located in La Frontera Village.