City Manager Warren Hutmacher said the mixed-use project will eventually be complete, but what is still not known is an exact date when that will happen.
When the project was first introduced in 2017, the Co-Op District was planned as a lifestyle center and gathering place for the community, Hutmacher said. It is planned to have retail, restaurant and multifamily residential space that spans more than 35 acres.
In May 2017, Hutto City Council approved Texas-based MA Partners as the project developers. Since then, Hutto City Hall, the public library and Southside Market & Barbeque have been built.
The inaction on the property is caused in part by Covid-19, as well as delays from the developers.
As part of the development agreement, Hutmacher said there are deadlines for MA Partners to build a certain amount of square footage each year before its completion, along with public improvements.
After the company missed its deadlines, MA Partners has had to pay fines to the city.
Another contributor to the standstill is a pause request by the River Creek Development Corporation, a city subsidiary.
The RCDC was created to oversee the city’s interests in the development.
The corporation manages the city’s responsibilities with public improvement district, or PID, bonds and ensures public improvements are made, Hutmacher said.
Council members Tanner Rose, Dan Thornton and Economic Development Corporation Chairman Mike Arismendez are all members of the RCDC board.
In May, the RCDC asked for a pause in the project’s development so the body could assess whether initial development agreements for the project were done properly.
Hutmacher said it is a precautionary measure to make sure the development is on the right track legally. Some of the items in question are the legality of delegation of powers and the financing of the PID bonds, which were done outside of Texas and did not have approval by the Texas Attorney General.
“I believe the city has done everything that we’re required to do based on the agreements, and we’re expecting [MA Partners] to perform,” he said.
If it was up to him, Hutmacher said the Co-Op District would have been built yesterday.
The issues the project faces now are complex and have to be sorted out in a court of law before moving forward, he said. Once those concerns are resolved and the Co-Op District is complete, he said the development will serve as a major asset to the city and its community.