Leander's proposed Lakewood Park could be larger than expected after City Council members approved an agreement with a subdivision developer last week.
Leander's voters approved the amenities for Lakewood Park in a May 2016 bond election, and the project was proposed to be the city's largest park, with an expected footprint of more than 100 acres set to be near the Cold Springs and Hazelwood subdivisions. About 30 acres of the land was expected to come from a donation from an undeveloped subdivision, Crystal Springs, but the previous property owner ran into financial issues with the neighborhood.
The new property owner, BLD Crystal Springs LLC has hired Colorado-based Century Communities Inc. to develop the subdivision using a Public Improvement District agreement with the city. Rick Rosenberg, representative for Century Communities, said a PID is an economic development tool to help facilitate the construction of public improvement and infrastructure.
“(A) PID provides to allow private investments to fill the role of public dollars so that you do not as a city have to pay for this infrastructure,” he said. “The control remains with the city; all the costs remain the responsibly of the PID. No other residents of the city will be impacted and there will be no cost taken on by the city during the process.”
City Manager Kent Cagle said to qualify as a PID, a developer must have extensive offsite costs or bring different amenities to the city.
“We’re not getting just another development like so many others that we have in the city," he said. “They’ve got to be doing something different and something above and beyond.”
Rosenberg said the development project is for 128 acres, and about 53 of which will be donated parkland. The rest will be developed into 430 lots with an average home price of $260,000.
“The project is expected to generate an estimated value of $112 million, which will generate ad valorem taxes of over $3 million—$670,000 would go to Leander,” he said.
Along with constructing the subdivision, the company will build the main entryway to Lakewood Park, as well as donate about 40 acres of land for the park.
“For that, they receive the PID and then also fee waivers for the subdivision construction inspection and application fees, waiver of fees for Heritage tree removal and a payment for the 40 acres of parkland,” Cagle said.
The city will pay about $250,000 for the parkland, which Cagle said is “a pretty good bargain.”
Council members approved a development agreement during their March 16 council meeting.
To help pay for the project, the city is expected to issue a PID bond in April 2018. Rosenberg said the city will have the final say on any bonds that are issued, as well as be able to retain all sales and property tax in the area. The bond, if issued, is expected to not exceed $6.5 million.
“Most of these dollars will still be funded by the developer, but some of it will be funded through the PID," he said. “Any costs overrun will be the responsibility of the developer.”
However, City Attorney Paige Saenz said if the developer fails to deliver on their part of the agreement, the city does not release the fee rebates and would not receive a majority of the parkland. They developer would still be required to dedicate 13 acres to parkland under city ordinance.
With the approval of the development agreement Thursday, Saenz said city staff will continue to work on due diligence before the proposed bond sale next year, as well as continue to discuss the project with the developer.