Great Hills retail center, movie theater proposed for redevelopment with 372 apartments, shops and restaurants

A developer is proposing to redevelop the Great Hills Market, including the Regal Arbor 8 at Great Hills cinema. The proposed plan calls for tearing down the theater to build a 372-unit apartment building with retail and restaurants.

A developer is proposing to redevelop the Great Hills Market, including the Regal Arbor 8 at Great Hills cinema. The proposed plan calls for tearing down the theater to build a 372-unit apartment building with retail and restaurants.

A Northwest Austin shopping center that includes a movie theater could be redeveloped into a mixed-use center with apartments, retail and restaurant space.

A zoning case is making its way through the city of Austin for the Great Hills Market at 9828 Great Hills Trail, Austin. The case is set to go before the Zoning and Platting Commission at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 after being postponed at the Oct. 3 meeting.

The developer is requesting to change the zoning from general retail and limited office zoning, GR-LO, to general commercial services-mixed use to allow for a mix of retail and residential uses. The zoning request also includes a vertical mixed-use overlay that would allow for a vertical building.

Amanda Swor, director of entitlements and policy with Austin-based real estate law firm Drenner Group, said the site currently allows for 60-foot buildings, roughly five stories, and the vertical overlay would keep the height limited to 60 feet. The first phase calls for a mixed-use development fronting Jollyville Road, she said.

Northwest Austin resident Jim Duncan, who is a former Austin planning director and sits on the zoning commission, said that when he saw the project come up on the commission’s schedule, he got excited about it.

“[The site is underdeveloped]; it is central to this whole area here,” he said. “It is the perfect place for mixed use.”

According to details provided in the zoning application, the plans call for redeveloping part of the existing 17.2-acre center and Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills movie theater with 372 apartments, 10,200 square feet of specialty retail, 11,200 square feet of restaurant space and 5,000 square feet of fast-food restaurant space with a drive-thru.

Because of the project’s size, the applicant had to conduct a traffic impact analysis, or TIA, on how the development would affect traffic. The traffic study, however, only analyzed current trips to the theater, Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant—both of which are proposed for redevelopment—and the Wells Fargo bank branch.

"It’s the only part we know what’s exactly going to happen," Swor said. "We will study the traffic as we go through the redevelopment process."

The theater, bank and restaurant generate about 3,700 daily trips. Under the proposed redevelopment of the theater and restaurant, that would increase by 3,300 to about 7,000 daily trips.

The only traffic improvements listed as a result are adjusting the signal timing for the intersections of Great Hills and Jollyville Road, Great Hills and US 183, Braker Lane and Jollyville, and Braker and US 183, according to the zoning application.

Great Hills Market has a total of 154,886 square feet of space, including, the theater, Petco, TJ Maxx, Pier 1 Imports, Macaroni Grill, Manuel’s and numerous other retail and restaurants, according The Retail Connection commercial real estate firm. The property is owned by Great Hills Retail Inc., which has a Dallas address listed on the zoning application.

The property would be developed in phases, with Manuel's and the movie theater being redeveloped first, Swor said. When the remainder of the center would be redeveloped depends on market demand as well as existing leases, she said.

The application provides some detail, indicating that “the area included in the TIA will encompass the first phase of development. Due to existing leases, the remainder of the property will not redevelop for several years. At the time of the site development permit for the remainder of the property, should the proposed uses exceed the existing vehicle trips per day, a TIA addendum will be provided to include the additional site area.”

Cases requesting a zoning change that are not located in neighborhood planning areas first head to the Zoning and Platting Commission before going to City Council for final approval. After receiving approval, a developer would next file a site plan application that reveals more details about a proposed development, according to city planning staff.

Editor's note: This post was updated with additional information from the Drenner Group and the total number of apartments.

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By Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.


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