After more than a decade of discussion and preparation, plans to develop the nearly 800-acre Carmel complex east of SH 130 are moving forward after Pflugerville City Council divided the property into two municipal utility districts, or MUDs, on Oct. 13.
Carmel developer John Lloyd said he has already signed development agreements and loans, committed around $10 million to engineering and preliminary work, and expects to break ground on the first 300 residential lots in the next few months with the goal of seeing rooftops by fall 2016.
“Three hundred is a pretty aggressive phase. We have tremendous builder activity out there; the builders are already lined up,” he said. “They’re ready to go as fast as we can give them lots to build on.” [polldaddy poll=9210988]
East Pflugerville development
East Pflugerville has seen a flurry of activity recently with the city purchasing more than 230 acres for a city athletic complex and approving a subdivision on another 150 acres, as well as voters approving a major Weiss Lane expansion project—all within three months.
Lloyd said development in east Pflugerville and the corresponding completion of utility and road projects kickstarted Carmel plans after the project was first discussed around 2002.
“We’ve been trying to get the stars to align, and it’s just now come together,” he said. “Having the school and park on either side [makes Carmel like] the creamy white filling in the Oreo.”
Pflugerville’s High School No. 4 is being built next to the Carmel property, and Assistant City Manager Trey Fletcher said he thinks the school created momentum for east Pflugerville development.
“Circumstantially I think the high school played a big factor in terms of generating demand and collaborative infrastructure development,” he said. “I think schools are responses to as well as stimuli [for development]. If you looked at the development around Hendrickson [High School] 10 or 12 years ago it was very sparse.”
Renae Mitchell, owner and developer of the Magnolia Ranch Estates community in east Pflugerville, said she purchased her property in the early 2000s before there was significant development east of the toll road and sensed the area would see as much as or more growth than other areas of Pflugerville
“I saw it coming,” Mitchell said. “We welcome [new development]. It’s more infrastructure for us to build on.”
Mitchell, who said she is planning a second phase for Magnolia Ranch Estates, said she does not view Carmel as competition since Magnolia Ranch caters to a different clientele with its 4-5 acre lots, but said the new housing complex could affect local property owners in other ways. New development increases light pollution and can also raise property values, Mitchell said.
Fletcher said Carmel will be the most extensive development the city has approved east of SH 130 and will help improve connectivity in the area, not just through utilities but also through the city’s trail system, which will be expanded to run between the housing development, the high school, and the planned athletic complex and park.
Although there are immediate plans to annex only one of the Carmel MUDs, the second utility district could also be brought into city limits in the near future, Fletcher said.
Lloyd said he could not release the names of the approved builders for the Carmel project but described them as local, large-volume builders he has previously worked with, including some of the builders involved with the Siena community in Round Rock.
Like Siena, Carmel will include a community swimming pool and recreational amenities, Lloyd said.
At build-out the development is scheduled to include 2,317 homes. Across Weiss from Carmel, Lloyd is planning a 384-acre commercial complex dubbed Cactus Commercial that could include retail, office, light industrial and residential uses, he said.
“They kind of go hand in hand,” he said. “We’ll probably get 400-500 houses out there first before we get commercial out there.”
Because Carmel is adjacent to the city’s newly purchased Rosa Pfluger tract—site of the planned athletic complex and park—and because Pflugerville requires new developments include a portion of green space, the city will be able to expand its planned park by several hundred acres, according to city documents. The expanded park will include public access to Pfluger Cemetery—a small group of burial plots that hold some of the founding residents of Pflugerville and was previously located on private property, Fletcher said.
Kelly Pfluger, a descendant of Pflugerville founder Henry Pfluger, said area residents rarely visited Pfluger Cemetery, which is located near open fields and low-water crossings and sometimes requires a truck to access.
“Nobody really knew it was back there, and with it being private property nobody had access to it. Now with the city buying it, I guess it will be more accessible to the public for [a] historical perspective,” he said.
Fletcher said master plans for the athletic complex, park and cemetery will include public input and will tie Pflugerville’s present and future to its past.
Pflugerville City Manager Brandon Wade said Carmel could take up to 10-12 years to fully complete based on the timelines of similar projects. Mayor Jeff Coleman said he expects the project to begin almost immediately.
“There is going to be a lot happening in that corridor, so this sector of Pflugerville is just going to be booming,” he said.
Constructing the East Side
The Carmel residential complex is the latest in a series of planned developments near Weiss Lane east of SH 130 in Pflugerville. City officials say the projects approved in east Pflugerville, including a high school and city park, will complement and support each other.