City Council moves to buy land, nix development on Spicewood Springs Road in Northwest Austin

Bull Creek in Northwest Austin
Austin City Council voted to begin eminent domain proceedings on a property adjacent to Bull Creek, pictured here, in Northwest Austin. Developer David Kahn is proposing building a 57-room lodge on the property. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Austin City Council voted to begin eminent domain proceedings on a property adjacent to Bull Creek, pictured here, in Northwest Austin. Developer David Kahn is proposing building a 57-room lodge on the property. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

After nearly a handful of years of site plan submissions, citizen petitions and negotiations, the city of Austin is now seeking to acquire a contentious plot of land off Spicewood Springs Road in Northwest Austin.

Austin City Council during a special called July 29 meeting voted unanimously to begin eminent domain proceedings for approximately 11 acres of land at 6315 Spicewood Springs Road, Austin. The entire property is located in Austin's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

According to city documents, the city is looking to purchase the land for $4.5 million. Those funds may come out of the parks and recreation department’s 2019-20 fiscal year capital budget.

Council documents state that acquiring the land will help the city complete trail connectivity from the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt to Canyon Vista Middle School.

But developer David Kahn, who owns the property, is pushing back against those claims. Kahn has previously submitted site plans to build a five-story lodge with 57 rooms on the land. Portions of Bull Creek run through Kahn’s land, just south of St. Edward’s Park.


The developer spoke against the action before the July 29 council vote, commenting he would be willing to negotiate donating part of the property for the city to build a greenbelt on.

“We offered [the city] a free easement for people to walk on the creek. It would be a 300-foot trail on the whole length. It would achieve everything the city wanted. ... They really wanted the whole property,” Kahn told Community Impact Newspaper on Aug. 4.

The eminent domain proceedings vote comes years after residents of surrounding neighborhoods created a petition asking council to preserve the land for park and trail use.

“Development must not negatively impact our environment, water quality and safety,” said Joe Trak, who spoke on behalf of Yaupon Bluffs Community Association residents at the July 29 Austin City Council meeting. “This property is surrounded on three sides by Bull Creek. It is in a critical water quality zone, and it is sensitive to pollution from development adjacent to the creek. Bull Creek feeds into the city's water supply system. It is a vital source, not just for surrounding neighborhoods, but all Austin residents.”

Kahn told Community Impact Newspaper he plans to file a lawsuit against the eminent domain proceedings.

“It is an arbitrary and capricious trampling of my property rights,” Kahn said Aug. 4.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.