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.