Leander, Williamson County considers expanding budget for walkable downtown district in the city

Portions of Leander's transit oriented development district are undeveloped.

Portions of Leander's transit oriented development district are undeveloped.



After numerous projects have been proposed for Leander’s walkable downtown district, the city’s budget for the zone is being reconsidered to cover new predictions for infrastructure costs.

The tax increment reinvestment zone No. 1, or TIRZ, was created in 2006 to provide reimbursements to developers building projects in the city’s transit-oriented development district, or TOD. The reimbursements, funded through the city of Leander and Williamson County, are intended to help cover public infrastructure improvements.

“I think [the TIRZ board] is an outstanding tool,” Leander City Council Member Shanan Shepherd said at a council meeting Nov. 2. “I think there are several developments that are worthy [of TIRZ funding] and I would support seeking to increase the amount of the TIRZ [funding].”

Traditionally the reimbursements have been provided incrementally through tax revenue over time, Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis said. However in the past few months at least one developer has asked for reimbursements up front for the Northline mixed-use project.

The TIRZ, which is set to expire at the end of 2031, was previously budgeted to provide reimbursements up to $59,845,000, according to city documents. As of Dec. 1, $23,819,582 of the TIRZ budget is already committed to projects, Leander spokesperson Michael Neu said. He said anticipated requests for infrastructure reimbursements may exceed the project’s current budget.

At the Nov. 2 Leander City Council meeting, council members considered expanding the budget to $120 million.

“As a citizen, I see the value of the TIRZ. I see the money it that it could potentially bring to our home values. I see how it could grow and make Leander a better city,” TIRZ Board Commissioner Joseph Eckels said. “There is far more need than there is funding.”

Eckels said that as a board member, he struggles because the TIRZ was established right before the recession, which pushed back development plans by several years. He requested that City Council provide the board with feedback on how to distribute the reimbursement funds to help the members make better decisions.

Leander city staff analyzed the core of the TOD—west of Toll 183A, east of US 183, north of Hero Way and south of San Gabriel Parkway—and found that infrastructure costs for the area could exceed $78,138,661.31 once built out, exceeding the present TIRZ budget, Leander City Manager Kent Cagle said.

“Given the fact that the TIRZ [has the ability to] reimburse up to $140 million and given the fact that the infrastructure needs [in the TOD core] we’re estimating to be $78 million without drainage, it leads to the question, should the TIRZ budget of $59,845,000 increase?” Cagle said.

Jolinda Marshall, principal planner for the TOD at the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, spoke in support of increasing the spending cap for the TIRZ.

“We see a lot of value out there [in the TOD],” Marshall said. “We see this eventually as a very regional transit hub.”

City Council voted unanimously in support of an increase to the TIRZ budget to $120 million at its Nov. 2 meeting. Next Williamson County must consider approving the TIRZ budget recommendation, according to Neu. If passed, the TIRZ board will officially adopt the budget and city and county officials will then have the opportunity to approve the adopted budget, he said. As of Dec. 12, dates were not yet set for budget consideration.
By


MOST RECENT

 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.

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.

Photo of people attending ACL Fest
City of Austin approves ACL health and safety plan, holds off on final permit

Austin Public Health gave ACL the go-ahead to allow proof of vaccination in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test, but asked organizers to require masking in some areas.

Photo of ACL Fest
Zilker Park closes in preparation for Austin City Limits Music Festival

Zilker Park closes in preparation for Austin City Limits Music Festival

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; fire kills 75 dogs in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers to open Leander restaurant

The burger joint is scheduled to open in mid-2022.

 Busy Nurse's Station In Modern Hospital
Williamson County seeking input on community health needs

The Williamson County and Cities Health District is holding two focus group sessions through September with the goal of collecting public feedback on community health needs throughout the county.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

A volunteer unloads food from a truck during the Central Texas Food Bank's April 4 event to feed families in need at Nelson Field in Austin. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank delivering boxes of food directly to homes through 2021

Some families will be eligible to have boxes with food for 25 meals delivered by Amazon.