Entertainment district proposed around Cedar Park Center

A proposed entertainment center overlay district seeks to limit what development occurs surrounding the Cedar Park Center.

The district, introduced Feb. 14 during the Cedar Park City Council meeting, would limit neighboring development to high-intensity retail, entertainment and other high commercial usage, Development Services Director Rawls Howard said.

"The purpose of it is to protect the city's $50 million investment in the center and promote more entertainment uses and activities," Howard told council.

There are three tracts of land—including the arena's property—that would be subject to the proposed overlay. Cedar Park's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the concept after three meetings.

Howard said after the meeting that the overlay would be similar to the City of Arlington's entertainment district, which includes Six Flags Over Texas, the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington and Cowboys Stadium. Arlington's district also features Glorypark, one of multiple mixed-use commercial ventures throughout the neighborhood.

Cedar Park's entertainment center would also limit the types of development within approved land uses. Restaurants, for example, would be encouraged to create a "sit-down atmosphere," Howard said, with no drive-thrus allowed.

"Also, talking with landowners, we would need some kind of daytime activity," he said. "And the only way you're going to generate activity here is some office near or on-site."

The concern, Howard said, is that some broad office use would come in and create a large campus, defeating the purpose of the entertainment district. So city staff proposed limiting ground floor office use to 10 percent of the total property, but vertical mixed-use would be exempt—allowing for office use on the top floors.

"So you can go vertical all you want, but we're trying to maintain the ground floor for more entertainment purposes," Howard said.

The idea of an entertainment district is as old as the Cedar Park Center itself, said Mayor Matt Powell, who as councilman served on the arena planning committee. The plan drew comparisons to the original vision of Cedar Park Town Center, which had featured a downtown concept with taller structures. The area has since become too residential and noise-sensitive for such a concept, he said.

Creating an entertainment center on the vacant land surrounding the Cedar Park Center could set a precedent, Powell said.

"When you have a place from the very beginning where that's anticipated, developers probably get a little less nervous about it," he said.

Howard said he and city staff will make slight modifications to the proposal and bring it back for consideration at the council's next meeting, Feb. 28.

Proposed entertainment center overlay district uses:

Administrative offices

Art gallery

Art gallery with retail sales

Art studio

ATM

Bakery

Bar

Bed and breakfast

Commercial parking lots

Concert halls

Meeting rooms

Convenience store

Food sales

Historic landmark

Hotel

Indoor sports/recreation

Medical office

Motel

Outdoor sports and recreation

Professional offices

Places of worship

Residential over commercial/office

Restaurant (general/limited zonings)

Retail gift store

Special events

Theaters

Transit station

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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