Austin City Council approves Great Hills Market zoning change request to add apartments

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Austin City Council approved a zoning change Thursday that would allow a developer to add residential use to the Great Hills Market retail center at 9829 Great Hills Trail, Austin.

The change was approved on a vote of 9-2 with council members Jimmy Flannigan—of District 6 in Northwest Austin—and Ellen Troxclair voting no.

The zoning change includes a conditional overlay that prohibits 24 different uses, including drive-thrus. Flannigan said he did not understand why some uses were prohibited.

“So part of my concern as generally with [conditional overlays]is generally removal of a bunch of uses that are not defined appropriately where they are for the site,” Flannigan said. “The veterinary services—I mean, there’s just a list of things on here that are absolutely appropriate for general retail. There are some of these that were permitted under the current zoning. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation about why these are going to be prohibited.”

District 10 Council Member Alison Alter, whose district includes Great Hills Market, coordinated with neighbors and the developer for months on the project.

“These [conditional overlays]give them some predictability for the neighbors who are absorbing a change, which to them is really vague, and so I think it’s very appropriate in this case,” she said. “I just really want to say thank you to the developer who worked very hard with us to make sure that all of the neighbors’ concerns were addressed as best we could with this change of use.”

The developer plans to build 372 residential units with retail and restaurants on the first floor. No development would occur until leases on existing businesses expire. Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills has a lease through 2020, and Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant just extended its lease through 2025.

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  1. The developer did NOT address all of the neighbors’ concerns! One of the main concerns is that they’re going to tear down the Arbor Cinema, which as an 8-screen theater screening art/indie/foreign films exclusively, is unique in Austin for its offerings and the way it serves the film going/making community for film festivals, premiers of important films, etc.

  2. James Bankston

    Some of my best Austin memories were made at the Arbor Cinema.

    I read somewhere that the developer refuses to build a new theatre, claiming that since peoples’ entertainment habits are currently in flux, the development company can’t be sure that anyone will still want to go to the movies in a few years. I think that’s a stupid, hard-headed position to take. The Arbor Cinema is one of the few things that sets this neighborhood apart from all the other boring, generic suburban areas in Austin. Without the Arbor and Barnes and Noble this neighborhood would be a wasteland.

    I live in an apartment in this neighborhood, and I don’t want to see more built around here, jacking up the price, and attracting more shifty residents and street racers. I’d prefer to have more dining, shopping, and entertainment options. I’d rather spend money close to home than have to make a special trip to another part of town.

    This whole development infuriates me.

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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. As senior editor, she is the point person for the company's partnership with Fox7 Austin.
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