Developer looks to bring homes, clifftop restaurant and park to Lake Austin

Lake Austin

Lake Austin

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Located on top of a cliff by Lake Austin and the Pennybacker Bridge, the Camelback Tract, purchased by developer Jonathan Coon last year, is now envisioned to encompass homes, a boat dock, a clifftop restaurant and parkland in the future.

Coon proposed amendments to the existing planned unit development, or PUD, plan of the tract. Approved in 1987 by the city of Austin, the plan designated 64 lots for single-family homes, some of which sit along the cliff, he said. The project would pull the residential area away from the cliff and concentrate the homes, Coon said.

“We think it makes more sense to … concentrate this footprint and then take what is a relatively large flat spot up here at the top of this hill and put … amenities that everybody share,” Coon said.

Many neighborhoods nearby endorsed the project. Some neighbors from the opposite side of the lake, however, raised several concerns.

Project design

Coon said a park open to the public with at least 25 free parking spaces would be built along the cliff. A 1,500-foot-long trail within the park would connect to near the overlook next to the bridge, he said. The design could mitigate illegal parking along Loop 360 near the Pennybacker Bridge, he said.

A boat dock and a private clubhouse would be located at the north side of the river bend west of Pennybacker Bridge, according to city documents.

Using drones to monitor boats cruising on the lake for eight hours, Coon said said almost all boaters making turns at the bend chose to avoid the outside of the curve to take a shorter route, and the dock would be relatively safe from collision. He also proposed to build an elevator connected to the cliff edge or other mechanized routes to provide access to the dock.

Coon said he is also negotiating for the purchase of Champions Tract 3, a 45-acre tract located northeast of Camelback. He said he plans to turn the tract into a senior living area. The currently approved site plan for Champions Tract 3 would bring 281 homes to the area, according to city documents. Coon said instead his plan would produce less traffic.

Coon said he would add three turn lanes respectively on West Courtyard Drive, North Capital of Texas Hwy. and City Park Road and extend the left-turn lane on RM 2222 to accommodate traffic. He would also extend Bridge Point Parkway to City Park Road.

The project would be privately funded, Coon said, and he will not seek funding from the city.

Community feedback

The project received endorsement letters from the Austin Neighborhoods Council and six neighborhood associations as of July 26. "It is a delight when a developer chooses to work closely with neighborhoods to create a project that works for neighbors," ANC President Jeff Jack said in a letter.

However, an objection letter from Bunny Run neighborhood residents Bill and Christie Nalle was submitted April 13 to Austin City Council Member Allison Alter from District 10, detailing several concerns.

Bill Nalle told Community Impact Newspaper the boat dock could be dangerous for intoxicated boaters at night.

“[What Coon said] is absolutely true for daytime, but what it fails to consider is we are in a 90-degree turn of the river,” Nalle said. “The river turns to the left, the drunks fail to note the river turns to the left and they run into the boat dock.”

Nalle also spoke against the design of a clubhouse for potential noise pollution. Additionally, he said the Camelback development would add traffic to the West Courtyard Drive and Loop 360 intersection.

Lyra Bemis, president of the Bunny Run Neighborhood Association, said the association has yet to announce its official position but holds a major concern over multiple exemptions from city codes that Coon proposed, along with concerns of light, water and noise pollution; protection of heritage trees; and boating safety.

Addressing Nalle’s concerns, Coon said boaters would have already run into the shores multiple times if they could not notice the turn, and the clubhouse would not feature bright lights or loud music.

Alter said in an email the city is still waiting on staff analysis of the project, particularly in terms of outstanding environmental questions. Wendy Rhoades, case manager of the project, said after the staff review is complete, the development would go before Austin’s Environmental Commission, Zoning and Platting Commission and then City Council for a final decision.

Editor's note: A quote from a letter from the Austin Neighborhoods Council was added to the original posting.
By Yue Yu

Yue "Stella" Yu covers Lake Travis, Westlake, Leander and Cedar Park. She is a journalism student at University of Missouri. Prior to this summer, she was a city government reporter at Columbia Missourian. Three things she loves the most: jazz, dogs and community journalism. Feel free to reach out at 573-529-5725 or email her at


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