Crystal Falls commercial corner emerges

Construction on intersection expansion to begin this year

The "front door" of the Crystal Falls subdivision will soon become Leander's newest commercial corner.

Construction is expected to start this year at the intersection of Crystal Falls Parkway and Lakeline Boulevard on The Shops at Crystal Falls, a new retail center on the intersection's southeast corner, and The Legacy at Crystal Falls, a new senior assisted-living and memory care facility immediately north of the future Randalls grocery store.

The lack of existing nearby options forces Crystal Falls shoppers to travel up to 10 miles round-trip for basic goods, said Sandy Aron, principal for Hunington Properties, which will build The Shops at Crystal Falls. The project is expected to significantly expand retail offerings for surrounding residents, and Aron is no stranger to developing similar projects.

Aron's work includes The Shops at Riverplace and The Shops at Steiner Ranch—both in Austin—as well as many more strategically located retail centers at various master-planned communities.

"You could literally pick every significant master-planned community in the Greater Houston area, and we developed at the front door," Aron said. "So we came to Crystal Falls because we were seeking additional opportunities in Austin."

The Crystal Falls shops will include a fresh design, Aron said, that is consistent with community surroundings. The development should include a 19,240-square-foot retail strip that offers multiple sites for potential tenants, including drive-thrus on each end of the building—allowing for possible quick-service restaurants to emerge, although no tenants have yet been confirmed.

"It's a great economic way for them to get into the market without enduring the cost of a freestanding building," Aron said.

The project also includes a 37,300-square-foot site for a stand-alone retail development. Although no tenant is in place, Aron said he hopes to secure a tenant for the structure by the time The Shops at Crystal Falls breaks ground, which could happen as soon as June. That would allow businesses to begin opening by late January 2014, he said.

If the project succeeds, Aron said he has not ruled out a second phase for The Shops at Crystal Falls on the intersection's northeast corner, which Hunington Properties also acquired in March.

But in the meantime, PinPoint Commercial will develop The Legacy at Crystal Falls on the intersection's northwest corner. Construction on the 90-unit, single-story senior living community will begin in 2013, according to a PinPoint news release. The project will include amenities such as a restaurant, movie theater, convenience store, spa, gymnasium and sports bar.

"We believe that the Northwest Austin area is one of the most underserved markets that we have found to date," PinPoint Commercial Principal Charles Turner said in a statement. "We can't wait to get started."

All the announcements for new projects come after Leander City Council approved a development deal in October for a new 58,000-square-foot Randalls slated to be built by early 2016 on the southwest corner of Crystal Falls Parkway and Lakeline Boulevard.

The agreement calls on the grocer to open two years after the Lakeline Boulevard extension, which lengthens the roadway 2.6 miles from Crystal Falls Parkway to Old FM 2243, is completed. Construction on the roadway project—originally scheduled to be complete by January 2014—is pending until the county acquires all the land for the future roadway, Williamson County spokeswoman Connie Watson said. In the meantime, KB Home has bid out contractors for the southern portion of the roadway expansion, which cuts through the future Mason Ranch neighborhood.

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.