Bella Fortuna PID to see public improvements, community benefits and new developer

Bella Fortuna was approved as a development district east of I-35 in Travis County at a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting Oct. 31, 2017.

Bella Fortuna was approved as a development district east of I-35 in Travis County at a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting Oct. 31, 2017.

The Bella Fortuna Public Improvement District, or PID, will see additional community benefits and a new landowner, Brohn Homes, per a set of two agreements unanimously approved by Travis County commissioners at a May 28 meeting.

A PID typically involves a municipality of county issuing bonds to fund various aspects of development.

The Travis County Commissioners Court created the Bella Fortuna PID in October 2017. The 157-acre development is located about a mile southeast of I-35 and Onion Creek Parkway along Bradshaw Road in the city of Austin extraterritorial jurisdiction.

As planned, it involves the construction of 476 single-family home sites, a 3-acre commercial site and 46 acres of parkland with a 1.5 mile trail network connected to the Onion Creek regional trail plan.

“[PIDs] are incentives to give the development community a bit of energy,” said Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents Precinct 3. “You don’t need a lot of prodding in this community to understand that you need rooftops.”

However, Daugherty and other members of the commissioners court also expressed concern about the upfront costs of PIDs to the county, particularly in light of a new property tax revenue cap that state lawmakers passed during the most recent legislative session.

“It’s not that we’re trying to be really harsh patooties about this deal,” Daugherty said, using what he termed a “Gerald-ism.” “We’re just trying to take care of the taxpayers.”

What's ahead for Bella Fortuna

The Bella Fortuna PID is currently owned by The Views at Onion Creek, which is responsible for making public improvements to the land.

These improvements will be paid for through the issuance of PID bonds, issued by the county but paid off by those who purchase land within the PID.

The public improvements will include water quality and detention ponds that meet the county’s updated floodplain standards; approximately 6,100 linear feet of wastewater main with wastewater service provided by Austin Water Utility; a 2,400-foot collector road called Bella Fortuna Drive running east-to-west, providing a future connection to Pleasant Valley Road and the I-35 frontage road; and two neighborhood parks and approximately 10,600 feet of hike-and-bike trails that will be open to the public.

The Views at Onion Creek is currently in the process of selling the land within the PID to Brohn Homes.

Once the sale closes, the county will assess what is owed by landowners and issue the bond funds. This is expected in the next 6 to 18 months, per the planning and budget office.

Initially, Brohn Homes will be required pay back the bond funds. Once the company has built houses within the PID, the new homeowners will be required to pay back their proportionate share of the bond funds.

Diana Ramirez, director of the county’s economic development and strategic initiatives office, told commissioners the total cost of these improvements has not yet been determined.

Per the county's PID requirements, there will be additional community benefits as condition of the bond issuance. Brohn Homes will pay a community benefit fee equal to 10% of the net PID bond proceeds that will g toward the county's economic development initiatives. The landowner also agreed to comply with the county's construction worker protection and historically underutilized business standards and to maintain the publicly funded parks and trails through a future homeowner's association.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


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