Developer seeks feedback from residents on proposed 11-story Spicewood Springs hotel

The proposed Spicewood Lodge would be located on Spicewood Springs Road at the end of Yaupon Drive.

The proposed Spicewood Lodge would be located on Spicewood Springs Road at the end of Yaupon Drive.

nwa-2016-12-16-1A local developer who proposed an 11-story hotel called The Spicewood in Northwest Austin withdrew the site plan application Dec. 2 in an effort to work with residents to address their concerns about the development.

“I’m open to ideas on how to make it a better hotel and how to be a better neighbor,” developer David Kahn said, adding he plans to submit new plans after speaking with residents. “I wanted to pull back and talk to the neighbors and see if they would support something different.”

His original plans were for an 11-story, 132,000-square-foot hotel with 120 rooms on an 11.39-acre tract of land at 6315 Spicewood Springs Road, Austin, adjacent to Bull Creek.

“You’re trying to achieve a balance between conservation and bringing people in to experience and enjoy the creek,” Kahn said.

But residents have raised issues about the proposed hotel’s effect on the environment and traffic congestion.

Kahn said he plans to only build on 5.8 percent of the land because of the city’s watershed protection ordinance. He said hotel guests would also not be driving on Spicewood Springs Road during peak periods when residents are driving to and from work.

Because the site is not located within city limits, it does not have any zoning.

“We have somewhat limited control when it comes to these sites,” city of Austin case manager Michael Simmons-Smith said. “We have no control over land use, [building] height, setbacks [or] the way the buildings and hotel look. Travis County is really going to be driving the car.”

Anna Bowlin, Travis County’s division director of development services and long-range planning, said the county is not permitted by the state to limit building heights, and any building setbacks would be environmentally related. She said the county routinely reviews a development’s effect on traffic, drainage and the environment.

Northwest Austin resident Rick Brimer, a resident of nearby Yaupon Bluffs neighborhood and president of the Bull Creek Foundation, said he and Joe Trak, vice president of the Yaupon Bluffs Homeowners Association, met with Kahn in late November.

“We feel this is a positive step that he is willing to withdraw the plan and look at other alternatives,” Brimer said. “It’s a long way between any final decision. It’s a good first step. We want to reach an agreement everyone can hopefully live with.”

Brimer said he and Trak are working to educate residents about how much the city can do given the site is not within city limits. Many residents they spoke to do not want the land developed, but others are open to ideas. Some are concerned about a hotel restricting the scenic view, Brimer said.

“One of the things people like about living in the Spicewood Springs area is the relatively rural nature of the area,” he said. “It’s quiet except during rush hour, and it’s a very scenic area with a view of the cliffs over Bull Creek.”

The section of Spicewood Springs Road near the proposed hotel site is two lanes with no shoulders, and it also floods when it rains. Brimer said future hotel guests might not know about low-water crossing closures, and residents are concerned additional traffic could be diverted to the more residential road of Yaupon Drive, Brimer said.

In the past, he said area residents have successfully worked with nearby property owners to develop more appropriate buildings for undeveloped properties along Spicewood Springs Road.


Austin City Hall (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Some on Austin City Council want more of its $272 million coronavirus relief package to go to residents in need

City Council will determine how much to put toward direct financial assistance at its June 4 meeting.

Candidates in the Senate District 14 special election responded to Community Impact Newspaper's questions about their campaigns to fill the vacant seat in the Texas Senate. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Senate District 14 candidates discuss the issues ahead of July 14 election

There are six candidates running in the special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Kirk Watson through 2022.

Parkfield Drive at Norseman Terrace
City outlines plans for 3 North Austin roadway projects to increase mobility, pedestrian safety

Plans and timelines for three separate North Austin transportation projects are now available to review online.

Travis County judge pushes back against attorney general's reprimand of stay-at-home order

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe responded to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's warning that county coronavirus orders conflicted with the state's.

Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week

The county reported 596 total cases on May 29.

The Williamson County small-business grant program has issued more than $18.5 million as of May 29. (Ali Linan/Community Impact)
Williamson County small-business grant program issues more than $18.5 million

The program has aided more than 1,600 local businesses.

Volunteers load cars at a distribution event in South Austin on May 28. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Six food distribution events scheduled by Central Texas Food Bank in June

Residents who face food insecurities can drive up with their vehicles for no-contact pickup.

Cap Metro and its community partners have combined to delivery more than 300,000 meals to community members in need. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro, community partners deliver more than 300K meals to community

The public transportation agency is teaming up with businesses and nonprofits to provide meals for those in need.

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported eight new cases of coronavirus May 29, bringing the county total to 596. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
1 death and 8 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported May 29 in Williamson County

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported the total number of cases at 596.

The Austin Central Library will reopen after it was closed for more than two months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin libraries, in-person pet adoptions to begin reopening June 1

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will begin opening amenities, but there is no date set to open Barton Springs Pool.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
New school schedules and a road opening: Latest news from Central Texas

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Central Texas area.

A photo of the Travis County headquarters sign
Austin Public Health officials say they plan to increase support to Latino community, where coronavirus hospitalizations are up

As of May 26, 76 Hispanic individuals in Travis County were hospitalized with COVID-19, representing around 78% of all hospitalizations.