Austin’s Planning Commission approved a zoning change at its meeting last night clearing the way for the redevelopment of a roughly 21-acre industrial site currently occupied by the Borden Dairy plant, located at 71 Strandtman Cove near Highway 183 in East Austin — set to become one of the largest mixed-use communities planned in the district. The proposal by Endeavor Real Estate Group would add 1,400 homes, 220 hotel rooms, more than 400,000 square feet of office space, and a whopping 106,000 square feet of retail to the dairy site near the Colorado River, as part of a new Planned Development Agreement modifying the site’s existing industrial zoning.
The rezoning request, which will now seek approval from City Council, passed 10-3 with Commissioners Azhar, Cox, and Mushtaler voting against. The item moved forward with a motion from Commissioner Anderson capping the maximum height of the project at 120 feet, with an impervious cover limit of 75 percent — the site’s current zoning allows a maximum of 80 percent. Commissioner Shaw added an amendment requesting a 60 foot setback from the southern property line, in response to concerns from area neighborhood groups that the development would impact the Colorado River Park Wildlife Sanctuary located between the Borden site and the river.
As part of the development agreement, 10 percent of the project’s residential units or roughly 140 homes will be designated as affordable housing, though the precise rates of income restriction are still undefined and could target incomes at or below either 60 or 80 percent of the regional Median Family Income. As part of the agreement, the developers will also provide a donation to the anti-displacement nonprofit East Austin Conservancy, the amount of which will be based on the final MFI target of the project’s on-site affordable units — about $630,000 if the units are offered at 60 percent MFI and increasing to roughly $1,260,000 if the units are offered at 80 percent MFI.
While the development is still in an early phase and hasn’t publicized any renderings so far, a concept site plan filed with the city last year using the likely placeholder title Borden East includes celebrated Texan studio Lake Flato as the architects of the project, which would become one of its largest single works yet. Previous large designs by the firm like the adaptive reuse of the former Pearl Brewery in San Antonio and Austin’s own Music Lane project have us very excited about this new district’s possibilities — we’d be thrilled to see every project in East Austin provide this plan’s benefits with such a respected institution for sustainable design behind the wheel.