When it comes to Austin condo zoning, there is one holy grail: there will be no exceptions to the current zoning rules which prohibit new construction within 200 feet of the shore of Lady Bird Lake. This simple rule, however, made for a difficult decision for the Planning Commission and the City Council.
CWS Capital Partners has purchased a plot of land with existing buildings that sit as close as 20 feet from the lake. Under current rules, they can redevelop these buildings, but they can not build new structures within the 200 foot easement. So, CWS asked the city for what seemed like a fair compromise: they would demolish the buildings close to the lake and extend the hike and bike trail by 1/3 of a mile in exchange for permission to build their towers 150 feet from the lake. Virtually political forces agreed that it was bad idea to allow any exception to the 200 foot rule — the likely fear being that it would set a precedent for other developers.
Here is the summary from the Austin Business Journal:
The city’s planning commission unanimously rejected California-based CWS Capital Partners’ plans to build three highrise condo buildings as close as 150 feet from the shore of Lady Bird Lake.CWS had requested a variance to the Waterfront Overlay Ordinance that prohibits CWS from building within 200 feet of the lakeshore. In exchange for being granted the variance, CWS proposed to donate nearly 2 acres of waterfront parkland and extend the hike-and-bike trail by one-third of a mile along Riverside Drive.CWS can appeal the decision to the City Council, but CWS attorney Richard Suttle says the company will likely not appeal, given that four council members have already publicly expressed their opposition to the variance.If the variance request remains denied, CWS plans to build two highrises — one 200 feet, the other 120 feet — and redevelop dozens of apartments that sit as close as 20 feet from the lake shore to sell them as townhomes. Those apartments pre-date the 200-foot rule.