Updated: Lakeway planning and zoning tables City Center proposal, goes to special session on March 15

A rendering shows an expanded City Center project for 60+ acres of undeveloped land in the center of the city of Lakeway.

A rendering shows an expanded City Center project for 60+ acres of undeveloped land in the center of the city of Lakeway.

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Legend Communities City Center Project
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Lakeway City Center village green
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Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 1.26.16 PM
Update: Lakeway's zoning and planning commission tabled a decision on the City Center project at its regular meeting Mar. 7. Commissioners said they needed more time to go over the proposal, according to city staff. Discussion and a possible vote for or against the project is scheduled for Mar. 15 at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall.

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Creating "something special" is the vision behind a new version of the Lakeway City Center project, according to Legend Communities' Chief Operations Officer Bill Hayes. Community Impact Newspaper has learned the development could expand its 56-acre footprint with acquisition of adjacent land parcels owned by the Lake Travis Church of Christ and Lake Travis ISD.

"We would love to combine this [last remaining undeveloped area of Lakeway] into one, contiguous, cohesive plan and gladly work with the city to put all this together," Hayes said.

Legend Communities plans to present to Lakeway's Zoning and Planning Commission March 7, an expanded planned unit development, or PUD, proposal that could move forward to full City Council a plan to create a large, mixed-use community. Renderings show it would be made up of arts and entertainment venues, a small offices and a retail village complete with a large grassy area for public and planned community events. All of it would be made walkable from connected groupings of new single-family and townhome residences.

At the hub of the community would be a traffic roundabout linking two four-lane roadways, one of which, Main Street would run from the Oaks at Lakeway shopping center through undeveloped land owned by Stratus Properties, through the City Center site, to Village of The Hills' entrance on the west side of Lohmans Crossing Road. The proposed cut-though would bring a long-awaited option for residents who now have to use RM 620 to access area businesses.

An earlier version of the City Center project was presented to zoning and planning in August 2017 for commissioners to consider.

THE LATEST CITY CENTER VISION
Legend Communities plans to create an open, 2.5-acre village green including installation of permanent, roofed structures to accommodate farmers market vendors or other public and planned lifestyle events for the entire city.

"This space makes it all feel more comfortable, vibrant and exciting. It's not just another throwaway piece of land," Hayes said.

And similar with an earlier version of the development, there remains a prime space for a performing arts center or dine-in theater, which are part of a larger theme of promoting art.

"This [concept] is a nod to the city's vision--put out a few years ago--of an arts district. The idea is to create some sort of gallery or arts space, and potentially we subsidize those rents to make that attractive and usable," Hayes said.

"Retail is a tough area right now. That's why we have to create something special with our area that is arts-and- entertainment-focused," said Hayes, who has lived in Lakeway for 14 years. "What we don't want here are yogurt shops and nail salons, all the stuff you see up and down [RM] 620. Maybe there is some kind of anchor that can draw people in."

Office and retail structures of up to four stories would also be incorporated depending on what the market will bear, Hayes said, adding a live-work component could be introduced as well if there is commercial interest.

POTENTIAL LAND ACQUISITIONS
Hayes said Legend Communities has secured a letter of intent to acquire 6 acres from the Lake Travis Church of Christ at 1801 Lohmans Crossing Road. Church leaders said they are considering options.
"All of the Legend Communities' representatives we have interacted with over the last year have been very professional, flexible, helpful, patient and civic-minded in working with our church," Church of Christ elder Will Ed Winters wrote in an email.

"We are hopeful the Lakeway City Center project will be approved by the city because it will facilitate our ability to construct our church building and create a unique combination of land uses in which we all can enjoy and thrive."

Legend Communities also submitted a bid for a rectangular 1.74-acre parcel of land behind Lakeway Elementary School. District officials confirmed a single bid on the parcel was opened on the Feb. 13 deadline and considered at the Feb. 20 board meeting. Action was postponed pending clarification.

The purchase from Lake Travis ISD would fill in a remaining gap in the City Center land area. Hayes said if its bid is accepted, Legend would offer the district access through the City Center to the remaining nearly 33 acres of school property for its future use.

"One day, whatever they decide to do, [their remaining parcel] won't be landlocked," he said.
The school district accepted sealed bids until Feb. 13, a public notice shows. Bids will be presented to the board of trustees when the bids are opened later this year.

LOCAL OPPOSITION
At a Feb. 9 town hall meeting at the Lakeway Activity Center, residents' group Heart of Lakeway voted to call on the city to put on hold any development plans for the greenbelt area behind the H-E-B, according to the group's Facebook page.

Concerns ranged from being in a 10-to-15-year construction zone to substantial traffic, development of high-density housing and the overall environmental impact.

Lakeway resident Greg Holloway moderated the event and told Community Impact Newspaper Hayes has been helpful in sharing versions of the City Center plan but said residents are asking: "Do we have to do that [planned development], or is there something that makes more sense for the rest of the city? Has anybody polled the neighborhoods around there to find out what makes sense for them?"

"Why don't [elected officials] all stop for a little while and rather than rush into a decision based on incomplete information and based on fully communicating with your citizenry, why don't we have that discussion?" Holloway said.
By Rob Maxwell
Rob Maxwell joined the world of print journalism and Community Impact in Sept. 2017 as editor of the Lake Travis - Westlake edition. He previously enjoyed a successful and rewarding career in radio and television news. In his spare time, Rob can be found scoping out area climbing walls and hiking trails. He lives in Cedar Park with his wife and daughters and looks forward to receiving his LCP edition of Community Impact Newspaper every month.


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