Representatives for the Square on Lohmans, a 60-acre swath of land that has been in a holding pattern for more than two years while Lakeway officials and developers have tried several times to hammer out a workable plan, have again requested a zoning change for a 45-acre portion of the property that would advance the site toward development.
This time they were successful.
A city document states Carlson, Brigance and Doering, the agent for the owner of the land located at 1931 Lohmans Crossing Road, requested an amendment to Lakeway’s Future Land Use Map, or FLUM, from mixed use to residential. This action paved the way for City Council to approve a specific rezoning of the acreage to R1 and R3 designations.
Following approval of the FLUM amendment, City Council then approved the R1 rezoning, which signifies single-family residential, and R3 rezoning, which signifies single-family residential-zero lot line-modified, for The Square on Lohmans. The rezoning passed in a 4-2 vote Nov. 18, with Council Members Louis Mastrangelo and Gretchen Vance voting no.
The new concept plan is a drastic reduction in density from its earlier iterations at the end of 2018 and the beginning of this year, when the total number of residences reached 250. It is an even more stark departure from the very first proposals for the development which, according to Mayor Sandy Cox, would have brought 1,000 residences to the land. The proposal brought to council during the Nov. 18 meeting caps the number of residences at 130, with 23 designated R1 and 107 designated R3.
Lakeway’s Zoning and Planning Commission postponed the FLUM and rezoning decisions on Oct. 2, citing a desire to wait for more information from the city’s comprehensive plan and FLUM revisions that are still forthcoming. But on Oct. 21 members of council kicked the decision back to the commission, stating advancement of the development had already been delayed for too long.
The commission then voted 5-2 at its most recent meeting to approve the FLUM redesignation to residential.
Lakeway officials have been working with Bill Hayes of the development company Legend Communities since late 2018 to shore up ideas and specifications for a second try at the development project.
The "Square on Lohmans" moniker represents a shift from the "City Center," which was the name for a different, previous project in the same area on Lohmans Crossing Road. That project was ultimately scrapped for lack of public support in mid-2018.
City information states that prior to development of the property, the applicant must submit a preliminary plan and plat for a recommendation from the commission and approval from City Council.
Hayes, who attended the Nov. 18 meeting, said representatives for the development will try to return to City Council in about 90 days to request a commercial rezoning for the remaining 15-acre portion of the development. After that, Hayes said there is likely a six- to nine-month time frame to get city approval for a preliminary plan and platting for the development.
During his presentation to council, Hayes emphasized the fact that the proposal before council was largely conceptual, and while the development might not change too much, it should not be considered final yet. He also provided council with a rundown of exactly what Legend Communities is planning for the residences, including avoiding what he described as cookie-cutter homes but also recognizing the area's existing aesthetic.
"We're trying to be consistent with the Rolling Green neighborhood to the north to make sure we have like product," Hayes said.
Hayes estimated price points for the smaller, R3-zoned homes in the proposed development to cost between $400,000-$500,000, and the larger R1 homes to cost between $600,000-$700,000.
Several in attendance addressed council during public comment, and while a couple of attendees spoke in glowing terms about the new proposal, several elucidated their concerns about what a mixed-residential designation means for the land, and one even told council to vote against it outright.
Council Member Sanjeev Kumar said he was not convinced the R1 and R3 zoning combination was the ideal designation for the development, and Council Members Mastrangelo, Steve Smith and Doug Howell said they agreed with Kumar on that point, asserting that the lower-density R1 designation for the entire 45 acres was probably the best way to go.
"R1 sounds great to me, but R3 sounds like it's adding more density to an area that is already going to be quite dense," Mastrangelo said.
Cox dissented from that group and reiterated at different times during the discussion that all that was happening during the Nov. 18 meeting was a rezoning of 45 acres. She also said that as the demographic age in Lakeway trends younger, a wider variety of differently priced homes would help accommodate an increasingly more diverse socioeconomic population.
Cox also broke down what has been an at times divisive process trying to create a development that appeased city officials and residents.
"This started with a City Center concept of over 1 million square feet of commercial [space] and over 1,000 houses," Cox said to Hayes, adding there have been several iterations of the proposed development since the project was proposed. "I want to thank you for listening. ... For those that maybe this is the first time you're seeing it ... it''s been an evolution on this project, so definitely thank you."
The Square on Lohmans development takes another step forward in Lakeway
Bill Hayes of development company Legend Communities addresses Lakeway City Council on Nov. 18. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)