Developer revises Austin Oaks plan

The Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development has prompted strong opposition from nearby residents, who say it would exacerbate traffic congestion, overcrowd schools, raze trees and tower over existing architecture.

At a May 5 Zoning and Platting Commission meeting, attorney Stephen Drenner of The Drenner Group law firm, representing landowner Jon Ruff of real estate company Twelve Lakes, said he submitted a new zoning application to the city aimed at alleviating some of residents’ concerns about the PUD.

The proposed development would be located along Executive Center Drive and Wood Hollow Drive, bordering Spicewood Springs Road. Twelve office buildings currently sit on the property.

The updated April 30 zoning application calls for 277 dwelling units, 70,000 square feet of retail, 910,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of restaurant space. Drenner said the latest traffic impact analysis is underway.

A previous application for the PUD included 610 dwelling units, 100,000 square feet of retail space and 850,000 square feet of office space.

Both the original and updated applications seek to change the zoning of the 31-acre property from limited office, neighborhood commercial, community commercial and family residences to a PUD. According to the city’s Planning and Development Review Department, PUDs are reserved for developments of 10 acres or more and allow greater design flexibility than conventional zoning regulations.

Drenner also said he reached out to neighborhood associations in Balcones, Allandale and Shoal Creek as well as the Northwest Austin Civic Association to discuss the updated plan.

“We are all systems go at this point,” Drenner said.

Zoning and Platting Commissioner Rahm McDaniel encouraged Drenner to continue meeting with neighborhood groups to educate them about the development.

Commission Vice Chairwoman Patricia Seeger said the commission would likely take action on the application at its June 16 meeting.

NWACA President Joyce Statz said the association is looking forward to meeting with Drenner and other neighborhood organizations.

“That’s a way for the neighborhood to give direct input,” she said.

Statz pointed to a NWACA survey of 500 households in Northwest Austin that showed more than 80 percent were opposed to the PUD and wanted the maximum height capped at five stories. Drenner’s latest application calls for buildings up to 10 stories high.

“His revised proposal doesn’t yet get to what the neighborhoods provide in their survey responses,” Statz said.

In the survey the No. 1 concern for more than 40 percent of households was the development’s effect on traffic. Statz said any redevelopment would cause more congestion, and it is unrealistic to expect the Austin Oaks property to remain as is.

“The big concern is what happens with traffic,” she said. “If we knew a great solution, we’d be promoting it.”


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