After months of tweaking its master plan in order to bring on board northwest Austin residents, Spire Realty had hoped to get City Council approval in early November for its Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development.
The various neighborhood associations-but particularly Green Trails Estates-engaged with Spire Realty on this 31.4-acre mixed use project, managed to throw up one more roadblock this month when the neighbors got the Zoning and Platting Commission to delay its vote over approval of the PUD. The Z&P’s decision was postponed to allow residents more time to contest what they claim are discrepancies in the city’s Traffic Impact Analysis report.
At this point, however, there is no chance the project will be killed or even significantly altered. Spire Realty has substantially scaled down its plans from what was presented in 2014, thanks in great measure to a January-February charrette it participated in with the neighborhood associations.
Spire Realty’s goal is to redevelop Koger Executive Center, a large 1970s-era office park that fronts the MoPac Expressway at Spicewood Springs Road. It is between Green Trails Estates to the west and across the expressway from Northcross Mall. Here is a comparison of what Spire Realty first proposed versus the concessions made at the request of the residents and city staff:
July 2014: More than 1.6 million square feet of total development; building heights of four to 17 stories; 65 percent impervious cover; 610 multifamily housing units.
Sept. 2016: Under 1.2 million square feet of total development; building heights of one to seven stories; 58 percent impervious cover; 250 residential units with a mix of for rent and for sale properties, (this includes condos that would be sold as part of a hotel property; 11 acres of green space, with 8.5 acres in parks.
The most significant results of the charrette were to reduce the total square footage of development, reduce the maximum height of buildings as well as the residential density, and secure guarantees there will be parkland and a landscaped pedestrian trail that runs east-west through the property.
A breakdown of the mixed-use components shows the project will have 835,000 square feet of office space; a 90,000-square-feet, five-story hotel; 30,900 square feet of retail; 12,800 square feet of restaurant space; and 223,000 square feet of residential.
The PUD includes two seven-story office buildings, two six-story office buildings; two five-story office buildings; two one-story office/retail buildings; two one-story restaurant buildings; and a single four-story residential complex.
The build-out is divided into four phases, with phase completion deadlines coming in 2018, 2020, 2022, and 2024.
Little changed on the site plan between the preferred plan that came out of the charrette and the version before the Z&P Commission on Oct. 18. The one obvious difference is an office building that was in the charrette’s preferred plan; located at the northeast corner of Hart Lane and Executive Center Drive, it has been replaced with a green space that may or may not become an extension of the $1.5 million neighborhood park placed at the southeast corner of Hart Lane and Executive Center Drive.
The majority of office development will be to the east, nearest the MoPac. The hotel would be situated in the center, just west of Wood Hollow Drive and Spicewood Springs Road. An east-west greenway named Heritage Trail would connect a neighborhood park on the west end to the south boundary of the hotel development. Also, a creek/floodway that runs north-south on the east side of Wood Hollow would experience substantial landscape improvements that include sidewalks and bridges.
Finally, the retail and restaurant uses have been placed to either side of the hotel, and the multifamily community is south of Executive Center Drive and adjacent to the east border of the neighborhood park.
Other than the park and greenway development, Spire agreed to set aside 10 percent of the residential units as affordable housing purchase or rent. Spire defined affordable as 80 percent or less of median income on purchases, and 60 percent of MFI or less on rentals.
“Up to 50 percent of the affordable units may be provided to households in which one of the members is employed by the Austin Independent School District,” Spire stipulated. That figures to 12 ½ units set aside for AISD employees.
There have also been traffic improvement concessions: installation of a signal light at Spicewood Road and Hart Lane; construction of a southbound right-turn deceleration lane on Loop 1 Southbound Frontage Road, and a southbound acceleration lane on Loop 1 Southbound Frontage Road.