Correction: The total development is referred to as the Co-Op District, not the Gin at the Co-Op District as originally reported.

Work on a 14-year endeavor is now underway in Hutto as developers of the Co-Op District begin the initial stages of construction and leasing.

The 25-acre project is located north of Hwy. 79, bordered by Exchange Boulevard to the west and West Street to the east. The city of Hutto owns the land, and Dallas-based MA Partners will be the developer of the property.

Early site plans show dedicated space for an 800-seat movie theater, which MA Partners has confirmed will serve as an anchor store for the multiuse development.

Robert Wunsch, lead developer on the property, believes that the cinema will draw anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 visitors per month, depending on which company is selected to occupy the movie theater.

According to the most recent site plans, the multi-story buildings east of the movie theater site will hold approximately 230 multifamily residential units.

Construction on the new Hutto City Hall and adjoining library, with a planned location at the northernmost edge of the development, is slated to begin sometime in April. A move-in date for the building is set for December.

Although Wunsch and Boyd Harris, the leasing agent with McAllister & Associates, declined to name any specific businesses they are looking to bring into the Co-Op District, Harris said the involved parties plan to create a “synergy” among the businesses to create an optimal live-work-play environment inside the development.

“Synergy is the most important part of the Hutto Co-Op,” Harris said. “We’re trying to get as many good Hutto businesses involved, and we’re trying to bring that cool, funky Austin flair.” Per Harris, the leasing agents are speaking with several Mexican-cuisine restaurants and are looking to lock down a “higher-end, but not expensive” barbecue restaurant.

Harris additionally said the development is considering bringing in a brewery and possibly a wine cellar.

The leasing agents on the site are looking locally to occupy the retail and office spaces at the development to supplement targeted national chains. Harris said the Co-Op District could potentially see an Apple Store or the new AT&T concept store, but the team as a whole is shying away from large, national brands.

“I’ve spoken with local Hutto business who either want to expand, or grow or have a second location,” Harris said. “What we’re trying to avoid is cookie-cutter national brands.”

At the ground breaking ceremony Nov. 2, Wunsch spoke of the development as an “entertainment district.”

“Basically the goal is to have 18 hours a day of activity,” Wunsch said.

To execute this goal the developers intend to bring on a full-time event programmer for an amphitheater that will sit lakeside on the western edge of the property. Developers have talked about filling programming with music concerts and other entertainment on the weekend, and bringing in theater and music performances from Hutto ISD students to perform during weeknights. The amphitheater will feature modern synthetic turf and possibly hold up to 1,500 people.

“And that’s not including the patios of the various surrounding restaurants and coffee houses,” Harris said.

According to Hutto Director of Development Services Helen Ramirez, the city mailed 56 notices to property owners within 200 feet of the subject property and received two comments in opposition to the development. One comment expressed concern over draining and flooding, and the other specifically noted “crime/noise concerns” in its opposition.

Hutto Police Chief Byron Frankland told City Council on Nov. 16 that the Co-Op District will be patrolled by police on bikes “from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m.” and that a new beat will most likely be created to serve the development.

Currently demolition work is being done on the property, and MA Partners expects to move the site’s historic cotton silos, which will be renovated to ensure longevity, to separate locations on the development property in early December.