The “Enchanted Forest” site at W. Oltorf and S. Lamar is being pitched for development into a mixed-use, 2-4 story project to be built on four acres.
Developer Scott Trainer is seeking to rezone the property in order to accommodate a 42,000 square-foot office building, 19,000 square foot restaurant, 29,000 square-foot specialty market and also include the existing Olivia’s restaurant.
The site is not an easy one to develop as much of the northern half is encumbered by flood plain.
During a City of Austin Board of Adjustment (BoA) hearing, where the variances requested got approved, Trainer’s representative told the BoA the idea for the development is to be a “community gathering place” with a market to buy fresh meats and cheese, along with a potential cooking school. (The representative also mentioned that neighboring 1400 and 1402 Oltorf were being separately redeveloped by that property’s owner, but provided no other details.)
Presumably, Trainer acquired the Enchanted Forest lot after the former owner Albert Deloach — who had established an awesomely eclectic outdoor art and concert space there while owning it for 25 years — put it on the market while lamenting to the media about his taxes, keeping up with City code and accommodating parking.
The site was listed for sale at $3.3 million. So, Deloach did OK on that sale.
Trainer’s project is actually larger than the original Enchanted Forest lot, which weighed in at 3.1 acres. There is no date set yet for the Planning Commission to hear the case, but there doesn’t seem to be a groundswell of opposition.
Trainer looks to have put in the court time to get the Zilker Neighborhood Association on board, and they expressed their approval to the BoA in October last year, after saying they had been in talks with Trainer for more than a year. Among the concessions extracted by the neighborhood association: no late night alcohol sales, no outdoor amplified music, and restoration of the creek.
Interestingly, the Zilker Neighborhood Association may be holding out for yet more concessions, due to the fact that in its letter to the BoA it was keen to point out “discussions are ongoing regarding the rezoning case”.
All things considered – in the most nostalgia-ignoring practical sense – I find this mixed-use office & market concept preferable to another fugly faux-“luxury” apartment community. Still, it’s a little hard not to watch this interview with the Enchanted Forest owner and not feel a tinge of loss for one of the off-the-wall things that cumulatively made Austin a place unto its own.