An existing 26-unit apartment complex located at 1801 Westlake Drive could be the site of a future redevelopment. During a Feb. 12 meeting, architectural firm Shiflet Group Architects presented conceptual plans to West Lake Hills City Council for a new condominium proposed for the site.
Mayor Linda Anthony noted that this presentation only depicts a high-level conceptual study and not an official site plan proposal. The developers are solely looking for the city’s feedback at this time, Anthony said.
The current two-story rental complex was built in 1962 and is owned by Greg and David Vandermark, who stated that they hope to develop a new property that is aesthetically pleasing to the city.
“My brother and I have given this a lot of thought. ... We believe it’s time to redevelop the property,” Greg Vandermark said.
Greg Vandermark stated that every unit of the complex is being rented, and about half a dozen tenants have lived there for 10 years. Unlike the current complex, the potential condominiums would be available to purchase rather than rent, though no potential prices were discussed during the meeting.
Renderings presented to council featured two condominium buildings featuring units with a significant spatial increase, bringing the average size of a unit from 750 square feet to 2,100 square feet. The firm’s proposal includes 19 units, a total of 44 parking spaces and three dock spaces.
The new conceptual building height was presented at 45 feet, a 27-foot increase from the current building. According to the architectural firm, the first floor is designated as a parking lot with three stories of residential units above it.
The conceptual plans showcased an impervious cover increase from 34,000 feet to 40,000 feet and the potential to impact six to seven trees, which would require a future variance request.
The property sits in a low canyon dropping off of Westlake Drive, which the architects believe would protect the existing view of Austin.
However, the current ordinance within West Lake Hills permits a building of this nature not to exceed 30 feet, and according to Anthony a hardship or burden on the client is necessary in order for a variance to be approved by the council.
“If our ordinance says 30 feet, the hardship can’t be solely economic,” Anthony said, encouraging the developers to reduce the overall height of the building. Anthony mentioned the idea of reducing space between the individual levels of the building to decrease the overall height.
Council Member Brian Plunkett agreed with Anthony, saying that it would be difficult for council to pass a 45-foot building. However, he noted that the concept could be attractive to many West Lake Hills residents looking to downsize from their homes.
Plunkett suggested possibly lowering the first of the two buildings which sits closest to the road, making it the most visible.
Council took no action on the conceptual presentation during the Feb. 12 meeting, and there is no scheduled timeline for the redevelopment. The purpose of the discussion was for developers to gain insight on council’s initial opinions, Anthony said.