What is it? It’s a wooded 32-acre tract with twelve 1–3 story office buildings. Current zoning allows for various commercial and office uses with maximum 4-story building height. This Planned Unit Development (PUD) rezoning initially requested high-rise (up to 17 stories) office buildings, 300 multi-family residential units, retail, restaurants, and a 2-acre park.

Where is it? It’s at the southeast corner of Spicewood Springs Road and MoPac; head west on Anderson Lane, cross over MoPac and Austin Oaks is on the left.

What’s the problem?

  • Austin Oaks currently generates 4,000 vehicle trips per day; PUD zoning would generate 20,000 per day.
  • High-rise buildings at the edge of MoPac would loom over Allandale residents 500-ft. away.
  • The heavily wooded tract would lose several heritage trees and most of the protected and smaller trees.
  • Austin’s Imagine Austin comprehensive plan designates the Anderson Lane Station at MoPac and Anderson Lane a “Neighborhood Center,” so the PUD densities proposed on the NWACA quadrant could be repeated in Allandale, Balcones, and North Shoal Creek.

Who’s involved? Since June 2014, representatives of five neighborhood associations have been involved in discussions regarding Austin Oaks with the owner’s agent (first the Drenner Group, and now Michael Whellan), and Austin’s Planning & Development Review Department (PDRD) staff. (Special thanks to NWACA president Joyce Statz for organizing initial meetings.)

In the news: Links to articles about the Austin Oaks PUD and the PUD ordinance are listed below. Neighborhood activists dedicated to protecting the community and schools encourage responsible commercial development within conventional zoning standards; see the nopud.weebly.com blog.

Send feedback: Allandale residents may send feedback [Email address: allandale.neighborhood #AT# gmail.com - replace #AT# with @ ] with “Austin Oaks” in the subject line indicating whether you’re For, Neutral, or Against the PUD. Provide your name and address (for residency confirmation only).

Timeline of events follows (most recent first), with links to documents about the proposed PUD.

Timeline: Austin Oaks

2016-Jan-12 Visions & Values Workshop: 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Austin Board of Realtors (Auditorium A)
4800 Spicewood Springs

If you missed the December workshop, here is another opportunity to provide input. Residents of neighborhoods surrounding Austin Oaks (Allandale, Balcones, North Shoal Creek, NW Hills) are invited to attend this workshop to provide input on what you would like to see at this site and to learn about the upcoming charrette.

Results of this workshop and the one held on 16-Dec. will provide direction to the charrette, so this is an important opportunity to express your views. The workshop will last about 2 hours. Agenda:

1. Welcome (Ben Luckens)

  • Meeting purpose
  • How did we get here?
  • What’s been happening?
  • Meet the Working Group
  • Meet the Charrette Team
  • Charrette week schedule

2. What is a Charrette? (Kareeshma Ali, Farr Associates)

3. Town Planning (Doug Farr, Farr Associates)

4. Existing Site Conditions (Sean Compton, TBG, Doug Farr)

5. Facilitated tabletop discussions with maps (Doug & Sean)

  • Objectives & Strategies Exercise
    • What do you envision?
    • How do you make it happen?
  • Report back on tabletop discussions

6. Next Steps

  • Finalizing the Objectives & Strategies
  • Charrette, January 25–29, at Congregation Agudas Achim Social Hall, Dell Jewish Community Campus, 7300 Hart Lane
    [NOTE: venue was changed from Austin Oaks to Agudas Achim]
  • Charrette schedule
2016-Jan-08 OSM Development Continues: There is a draft list of OSMs created by the Working Group and a list of OSMs from the 16-Dec. V&V Workshop. Additional OSMs will be gathered at the 12-Jan. V&V Workshop.

Following the second workshop, the charrette Working Group and the charrette facilitator, Doug Farr, will outline a framework for the final OSMs. Using that framework, the Working Group’s OSMs and those from both V&V workshops will be consolidated into a single set of OSMs. The consolidated OSMs will be presented on the first day of the charrette and are expected to evolve further.

The Working Group and Doug Farr are working hard to finalize and will publish the OSMs to the Austin Oaks charrette web page and emailed to ZAP Commissioners as soon as possible.

2016-Jan-05 Status Report to Zoning & Platting Commission: The current zoning case will expire on  08-March, so it will have to go before ZAP prior to their 14-March  meeting; at this time it is doubtful the case will proceed at that time. Commissioners were given an overview of community input opportunities (info sessions, workshops, charrette week). Commissioners requested a list of stakeholders, list of public event attendees, list of OSMs, all of which will be provided shortly.

During the charrette, one of the designs will illustrate development potential under current zoning (creatively, not as an ugly mass) in addition to three other designs that take into account top neighborhood concerns (traffic, trees, and building height). All designs will be subject to pin-up reviews on Tue-26-Jan, followed by design refinements based on components as selected by public input during all three evenings, and then consolidated into one final design on Fri-29-Jan.

The ultimate zoning designation, which may include conventional zoning, conditional overlays, restrictive covenants, development agreements, and PUD—in short, all of the zoning designations available today—will be derived by implementing the land use plan into the CoA zoning process. Items and scenarios possible solely under a PUD will be identified.

2015-Dec-16 Vision & Values Workshop #1: The first of two Vision & Values (V&V) Workshops was held from 6:00–9:00 p.m. at St. Matthews Episcopal Church. Approximately 50 neighbors participated in tabletop exercises to enumerate their objectives and strategies for future redevelopment of Austin Oaks. Results will be posted following the second V&V workshop on 12-January.
2015-Dec-07 AO Working Group Meeting: To optimize communication and progress, meetings now include steering committee and working group members (composed of key stakeholders). Discussion focused on agenda and logistics for the upcoming V&V Workshops, slight refinements to OSMs, and further stakeholder analysis.
2015-Dec-01
& 02
Community Information Meetings: To accommodate varying schedules, one session was held during the day and one in the evening. Approximately 50 neighbors attended each session. The meeting handout is available here and the presentation slides are available here (both courtesy of NWACA).
2015-Nov-17 AO Steering Committee: Finalized pre-charrette public meeting times and locations; selected 19-Nov for press release timing and contact (Ben Luckens); continued OSM refinements; charrette week plans. Discussed post-charrette implementation: documenting the zoning development framework for a land use plan as basis for the final zoning ordinance.


Community Information Meetings: Please attend one of these meetings to learn about the process and how neighbors can contribute to the Vision and Values Workshops. Neighborhood representatives will be there to provide information and answer questions.

  • Tuesday, December 1st 6:00–8:00 PM at St. Mathew’s Episcopal Church, Room B-18, located at 8134 Mesa Drive
  • Wednesday, December 2nd 11:30 AM–1:30 PM at St. Mathew’s Episcopal Church, Room B-18, located at 8134 Mesa Drive

Neighborhood Vision and Values Workshops: Please participate in one of these meetings to provide input.

  • Wednesday, December 16th 6:00–9:00 PM at St. Mathew’s Episcopal Church, Huffman Hall, located at 8134 Mesa Drive
  • Tuesday, January 12th 11:30 AM–1:30 PM at Austin Board of Realtors, Auditorium A, located at 4800 Spicewood Springs Road

Charrette Design Workshop: As the workshop schedule is finalized, additional information is forthcoming about how neighbors can participate.

  • January 24-29th at Congregation Agudas Achim Social Hall, Dell Jewish Community Campus, 7300 Hart Lane [NOTE: the venue was changed from the Meridith building at Austin Oaks to Agudas Achim].
2015-Nov-09 AO Steering Committee: Reviewed: workshop schedules and venues; press release and single point of contact; grant funding; clearly stated requirements for continued OSM refinements, iterative process, and innovation.
2015-Nov-03 AO Steering Comittee: Committee assignments and schedules were updated. Discussion focused on: selecting dates for pre-charrette stakeholder outreach workshops; funding; refining Objectives, Strategies, and Measures (OSMs); and drafting a mission statement, “To create a redevelopment plan for the Austin Oaks site that satisfies the values of the neighborhood stakeholders and is economically feasible.”
2015-Oct-27 Working Group Formed: A working group was established, charged with planning the charrette, informing neighborhoods about the process, and engaging the community in identifying values to guide a collaborative design. Four Austin Oaks (AO) committees were populated: Steering, Community Involvement, Official Interface, and Logistics. Leads selected were NWACA resident Ben Luckens as project manager, TBG Partners as local design team, and Doug Farr as design facilitator.
2015-Oct-07 Neighborhood Reps Met with Spire Reps: Jon Ruff, President of Spire Realty, and Spire’s counsel Michael Whellan reiterated the desire to suspend PUD activity at the city’s Planning & Zoning Department in order to conduct a charrette, engaging neighbors to identify concerns. As  expressed previously by Spire’s former counsel, Steve Drenner, everything is on the table, including the potential to withdraw the PUD application in favor of conventional zoning. Neighborhood reps were asked to identify three possible charrette leaders by our next meeting, tentatively scheduled for 27-Oct.


Charrette 101: So what on earth is a Design Charrette? In a nutshell, it’s a multi-day design exercise that brings stakeholders together with a multidisciplinary team of designers, engineers and other specialists to plan the site through a collaborative process. Throughout the charrette, stakeholders provide input and feedback to the design team, and various development scenarios are reviewed against agreed-upon objectives and measures, refined and revised as appropriate. The outcome of the charrette is a consensus-based design for the site which can be used to guide the redevelopment.

2015-Oct-01 New Counsel to Meet with Neighborhoods: Michael Whellan (attorney with Graves Dougherty Hearon Moody) representing Spire Realty, called a meeting of neighborhood representatives to discuss how to move forward and involve the community regarding future development of Austin Oaks. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for 07-Oct.
2015-Sep-15 Zoning & Platting Commission: 6:00 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 301 W. 2nd St. (Please note, access to the City Hall parking garage has changed; the entrance is now on Guadalupe, and the exit is on Lavaca.) Adjacent neighborhood associations continue to request that the PUD be denied, but we expect planning & development staff to request another postponement due to incomplete review of the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA).

Update: Staff is not ready to provide feedback at this time. The applicant now requests an indefinite postponement in order to conduct a charrette. After more than an hour of discussion, commissioners voted to grant an indefinite postponement, with regular staff updates starting on 06-Oct pertaining to the status of the TIA and the charrette process.

2015-Sep-08 Community Meeting on Austin Oaks: 7:00–8:30 p.m., at the Austin Board of Realtors Building, 4800 Spicewood Springs Road, Balcones Civic Association invites all 4-corners area residents to an information session where CoA planning & zoning staff will talk about the PUD process and field questions.
2015-Aug-13 PUD Updates: You can review the developer’s latest changes to their Land Use Plan (LUP) here and their responses to staff review questions here.
2015-Jul-08 Meeting with City Staff: ANA and NWACA neighborhood representatives Kata Carbone and Joyce Statz met with Tori Haase, Matthew Lewis, Matt Dugan, Kathleen Fox, and Jerry Rusthoven to discuss the neighborhood’s main points of concern, particularly as the proposed development relates to Imagine Austin.
2015-Jul-07 Zoning & Platting Commission: As we anticipated, the Austin Oaks PUD case was granted another postponement. The case is slated to go before the Environmental Board on August 19th, and then back to ZAP on September 15th.
2015-Jun-16 Zoning & Platting Commission: The Austin Oaks PUD was scheduled to be heard tonight (we anticipated that another postponement request would be granted) but the meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather. ANA had submitted a letter to ZAP stating that the NW Austin Neighborhoods alliance* consisting of ANA, Balcones Civic, and North Shoal Creek N.A.s requests that the PUD rezoning be denied on the grounds that the alliance and Drenner Group (representing Twelve Lakes LLC) have not reached agreement on the critical issues of:

  • Building height and density
  • Traffic
  • Impact on schools
  • Trees and the environment
  • Consistency with Imagine Austin

*NWACA declined to participate in a group letter, but issued their own resolution opposing the PUD and requesting a community engagement process.

2015-Jun-11 Austin Oaks Community Meeting: From 5-7 PM at the Jewish Community Center, 7300 Hart Lane, the Drenner Group will provide area residents with current information on Austin Oaks and solicit input. (The meeting will be repeated on June 15.) Attendees are welcome to come any time during the two-hour open house to view information exhibits, ask questions, and share ideas. Refreshments will be served. Exhibits will include:

  • Planned improvements to traffic flow
  • Revisions to the Austin Oaks Plan since the last presentation
  • Neighborhood amenities proposed in the plan
  • Planned Unit Developments (similar to how the Jewish Community Center was developed, Austin Oaks is requesting PUD zoning)
2015-May-30 Four Corners Alliance: Meeting of Allandale, Balcones Civic, North Austin Civic, and North Shoal Creek N.A. representatives. Of note was discussion about a robocall on May 17 & 18 to District 10 residents that some were calling a “push poll” (an ostensible opinion poll in which the true objective is to sway voters using loaded or manipulative questions). Next steps included a proposal that a facilitated meeting (or charrette) be held and that the alliance maintain a unified voice in recommending that ZAP deny another postponement.
2015-May-15 Zoning & Platting Commissioners McDaniel and Seeger, District 10 Council member Gallo, District 7 Council member Pool met with neighborhood association representatives and area residents to discuss impacts of the proposed development from the neighborhood’s perspectives.
2015-May-06 ANA hears updates to development proposal: Steve Drenner, principal of Drenner Group, provided an overview of their latest changes to the Austin Oaks development plan during ANA’s May Executive Committee meeting. A comparison of key issues follows (see the 2015-May-04 timeline entry below for links to documents related to PUD Proposal 2).

Chart

Focus turned to specific details such as the possibility of transplanting protected trees, screening unattractive parking garage structures, potential building surfaces to minimize visual annoyances (reflected glare and heat, light trespass, etc.), all of which the Drenner Group expressed interest in exploring further.

Representatives of the four corner neighborhoods will continue discussions with council members Gallo and Pool, commissioners, city staff, and the Drenner Group, with anticipated opportunities for wider participation in a public forum.

2015-May-05 ZAP hears updates to development proposal: The Drenner Group will provide an update to Zoning & Platting (ZAP) commissioners on Tue-05-May at 6:00 PM (at which time, see the May ZAP agenda, watch the meeting live or watch later).

In advance of the update, Balcones Civic Association (BCA) contacted ZAP commissioners to voice their neighborhood’s unequivocal opposition to the PUD (see BCA to ZAP).

2015-May-04 NWACA hears updates to development proposal: The Drenner Group provided the following documents to North West Austin Civic Association (NWACA):

NWACA representatives met with ZAP commissioner Rahm McDaniel and council member Sheri Gallo to discuss NWACA’s survey results and key concerns. Mr. McDaniel and Ms. Gallo offered to help the neighborhood come together on this issue. NWACA also met with the Drenner Group and asked them to develop a communication dialog plan for the neighbors, to explain the type of development that can be done under current zoning, to explain the use of PUDs, to provide more information about the latest plans, and to gather feedback from the community. NWACA compared previous and current aspects of the PUD here.

2015-Apr-10 Austin Oaks PUD Report from District 10 Austin City Council Member Sheri Gallo: “At their April 7, 2015 meeting [watch here], the Zoning and Platting (ZAP) Commission received a briefing on the status of the proposed Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development. Commissioners were informed that the Northwest Austin Civic Association (NWACA) conducted a survey of their neighborhood based on the developer’s December proposal. The Drenner Group informed the Commission that they were waiting for the results of the survey and would provide the Commission with an update at their May 5, 2015 meeting. The Planned Unit Development must be posted for action, including postponement, by the ZAP Commission on or before June 16, 2015.

The results from the Northwest Austin Civic Association (NWACA) March 2015 survey were published on the NWACA website on April 9, 2015. After validating responses to the survey, the NWACA board reports 501 valid responses from NWACA households, with 81.8 percent opposed to the proposed PUD. With 4160 households in NWACA this indicates that 12 percent of NWACA households are represented in the survey…

The Allandale Neighborhood Association (ANA) and the Balcones Civic Association (BCA) are still officially opposed to the proposed Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development. ANA has not ruled out a survey and intends to reach a decision at their May 6, 2015 Executive Committee meeting…”

2015-Apr-09 NWACA Survey Results: NWACA residents were asked to respond to PUD zoning changes proposed by the developer in December 2014 (see sample survey). A summary of results and survey participant comments were forwarded to the Drenner Group, to City of Austin Planning and Development Review staff, and to District 10 council member Sheri Gallo’s office.
2015-Apr-08 Austin Neighborhoods Council Position: The ANC executive committee contacted City of Austin Mayor Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Tovo, and City Council members to register opposition to rezoning of the Austin Oaks property to a Planned Unit Development.
2015-Feb-18 Meeting with City Council Reps: District 10 Council member Gallo invited District 7 Council member Pool, neighborhood representatives, and area residents to discuss concerns. Suggested action item for the “four corner” neighborhoods: poll residents to gauge opinions on the proposed rezoning of Austin Oaks.
2014-Dec-22 Updated Proposal Received: Letter from Steve Drenner (here) listing modifications to the initial PUD proposal as discussed at Nov 17 meeting:

  • Traffic congestion: additional funding (~$400 k) for traffic mitigation (above TIA $1 million) with neighborhood input for prioritization. (Attachments 1A and 1B)
  • Pedestrian safety: hybrid beacons, rapid flashing beacons, or similar options along Far West Blvd. for walk/bike to school safety; enhanced on-site amenities to facilitate walking/biking; preserve bike lanes on Hart; neighborhood feedback requested to identify trouble spots. (Attachment 2)
  • Financial assistance to schools: formation of “Austin Oaks School Assistance Trust” (funded by 0.2% ad valorem tax on the property, ~$9 million by 2032) to benefit capital improvements, infrastructure renovations, academic initiatives, classroom support, etc. Trustees would include one seat for the property owner and other seats TBD by neighborhood and school campus leaders. (Sample, Attachment 3)
  • Parkland improvements, off-site: $150k to Doss elementary school playground and park (new exercise trail, equipped fitness station, shade canopies, new benches, resurfacing playground and sport court). (Attachment 4)
  • Parkland improvements, on-site: trail system throughout; 2-acre community park. (Attachment 5)
  • Retail space: 90k sq. ft. retail inclusive of 60k sq. ft. restaurant space.
  • Residential units: adding 300 apartments instead of 575 (adding 60–120 elementary, middle, and high school students to overcrowded schools).
  • Building height: increased to 200 ft. max instead of 225 ft.
  • Density: increased to 1.4M sq. ft. instead of 1.6M (increase of 20k traffic trips per day instead of 25k).

Mr. Drenner underscores PUD superiority requirements beyond current zoning standards and greater scrutiny than conventional zoning cases (see attachments here and here). He states that redeveloping under current zoning capacity (450,000 sq. ft.) will not be financially feasible to the property owner.

This is contrasted with Jim Duncan’s calculation of 1,000,000 sq. ft. at full build-out under current zoning (see p. 5).

2014-Dec-16 Zoning & Platting Commission: PDRD staff’s request for an indefinite postponement was approved; ZAP commissioners are disinclined to set deadlines until a case is fully vetted. Since no definite date is set, neighbors will be renotified prior to the next public hearing. Staff will continue discussions with the applicant and neighbors and will provide a progress report to ZAP on February 17, 2015.
2014-Dec-12 Zoning & Platting Commission, public hearing December 16, 6:00 p.m. City Hall, 301 W. 2nd St. Residents opposed to the PUD are asked to email ZAP commissioners before December 16 stating that you OPPOSE an indefinite postponement of Case #C814-2014-0120 and believe that a 60 day postponement (to February 17, 2015) gives PDRD staff sufficient review time.

bc-Rahm.Mcdaniel [Email address: bc-Rahm.Mcdaniel #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], bc-Betty.Baker [Email address: bc-Betty.Baker #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], bc-Gabriel.Rojas [Email address: bc-Gabriel.Rojas #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], bc-Cynthia.Banks [Email address: bc-Cynthia.Banks #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], bc-Patricia.Seeger [Email address: bc-Patricia.Seeger #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], bc-Sean.Compton [Email address: bc-Sean.Compton #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], bc-Jackie.Goodman [Email address: bc-Jackie.Goodman #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], Dora.Anguiano [Email address: Dora.Anguiano #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ], Greg.Guernsey [Email address: Greg.Guernsey #AT# austintexas.gov - replace #AT# with @ ]

2014-Dec-05 ANA Comments to Zoning & Platting Commission: Submitted by ANA Zoning Chair Nathan Vassar to PDRD case manager Lee Heckman in response to notice of Dec 16, 2014 ZAP public hearing, Case #C814-2014-0120:

On behalf of the Allandale Neighborhood Association, I write to state our opposition to the applicant’s requested rezoning from LO, SF-3, LR, and GR to PUD. The Allandale Neighborhood Association voted on September 3, 2014 to oppose the rezoning request as the PUD proposal is incompatible with adjacent neighborhoods, including Allandale. Allandale residents have raised a variety of concerns, including proposed impacts upon traffic, height (including viewshed blockages into Allandale), and the elimination of heritage trees, among others.

2014-Dec-03 ANA Executive Committee meeting: EC voted to respond to Zoning & Platting’s notice of public hearing by objecting to the Austin Oaks PUD rezoning.
2014-Nov-17 Drenner Group meeting: Representatives of ANA, BCA, NSCNA, and NWACA met to hear the developer’s suggestions for modifications to the initial proposal. Documents provided by the Drenner Group at this meeting are available here. Modifications include:

  • Traffic increase of 20,000 (not 25,000) trips per day
  • Maximum building height of 16 stories (not 17), or 11 stories if parking structures are detached
  • Adding 300 multifamily units (not 600), less impact on overcrowded schools
  • Creating a 2-acre park adjacent to retail space (retaining 4 heritage trees initially requested for removal on Tract A)
  • Adding sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes throughout the development
  • An ad valorem tax funded by commercial development to be used for schools or other improvements stipulated by the neighborhoods

A comprehensive counter-proposal is expected to be provided by the development team at a later date, after which a second public community meeting was suggested.

2014-Oct-05 NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance letter opposing PUD was sent to Austin city council, commissioners, planning & development review staff:

Mayor, Council Members and City Staff,

Together, the neighborhoods composed of Allandale Neighborhood Association, Balcones Civic Association, North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association and Northwest Austin Civic Association have formed an Alliance to review and make recommendations on the proposed Austin Oaks PUD zoning request.  

The Alliance surveyed their respective residents, representing 12,660 households, who overwhelmingly request that the City of Austin Staff, Committees and City Council deny the proposed Austin Oaks PUD zoning request.  Additionally each of our individual neighborhood associations have voted against the Austin Oaks PUD proposal.

Below is our official position and I have also attached this in a word format for your convenience. We are open to discussion should you have questions.

Sincerely,
Debra Bailey
President Balcones Civic Association & NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance Member

NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance:
Allandale Neighborhood Association, Balcones Civic Association,
North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association,
& Northwest Austin Civic Association

Official Position Regarding Proposed Austin Oaks PUD
Case Number C814-2014-0120

The NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance, composed of ANA, BCA, NSCNA, and NWACA, was formed to review and make recommendations on the proposed Austin Oaks PUD zoning request. The Alliance represents 12,660 households at the ‘4 Corners’ intersection of Spicewood Springs Road and MoPac where the Austin Oaks PUD is proposed (ANA-SE corner, BCA-NW corner, NSCNA-NE corner and NWACA-SW corner).

The Alliance surveyed their respective residents, who overwhelmingly requested that the City of Austin Staff, Committees and City Council deny the proposed Austin Oaks PUD zoning request.

Facts About Austin Oaks PUD:

  • Does not meet the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, which designates this area as a Neighborhood Center, the least dense of the activity centers.
  • Adds an estimated 21,000 car trips over existing traffic.
  • Traffic Impact Analysis does not properly assume background traffic, omitting for example:

    • Far West: Vertical Mixed Use zoning on Far West from Chimney Corners to MoPac
    • Spicewood: Austin Board of Realtors Building, Small Office at 4845 Spicewood
  • Removes existing bike lanes on Hart Lane
  • Project adds 125–150 students to currently overcrowded schools:

    • Doss is at 200% capacity
    • Murchison at 145% capacity
    • Hill is at 135% capacity
    • Pillow is at 114% capacity
    • Gullett is at 128% capacity
  • Height of the buildings is greater than anything outside of downtown (17, 14, 8 stories)
  • Creates a precedent for higher office towers along MoPac
  • Loss of heritage and protected trees

This corner of Spicewood Springs Road and MoPac requires careful attention to preserve the natural beauty of the abundant large native trees and wild plant materials found in similar areas of Austin west of the Balcones fault line. For the most part, the natural scenic beauty of the area has been skillfully and sensitively preserved as new developments have occurred and this concern is of the utmost importance in preserving the environmental quality of the neighborhood as parcels are developed. Topographically, the area is varied and interesting in character, which has resulted in a wide variety of commercial and residential designs, many of which have effectively taken advantage of the dramatic views of the hills and valleys in the western two thirds of the neighborhood and beyond.

Over the years, the NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance has individually and successfully worked with numerous residential and commercial projects to ensure that the quality and natural beauty of the neighborhood is not lost. We continue to advocate to preserve the relatively uncluttered and natural wooded quality of the land while encouraging high quality and sensitive design of projects within the neighborhood and along its edges with improvements that enhance rather than detract from the environmental quality of the area.

The proposed Austin Oaks PUD project does not fit the long term goals of our neighborhoods, it contributes more traffic on roads that cannot handle it, exceeds the capacity of our overcrowded schools, and removes too many trees.

The NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance respectfully asks that you deny a zoning change for Austin Oaks case number C814-2014-0120.

Sincerely,

Debra Bailey-President, Balcones Civic Association
Kata Carbone-President, Allandale Neighborhood Association
Joyce Statz-President, Northwest Austin Civic Association
Kevin Wier-Liaison, North Shoal Creek Neighborhood Association

2014-Sep-15 ANA Land Development Code Committee meeting: Presentation on Austin Oaks PUD by guest speaker Jim Duncan (CodeNEXT Advisory Group member) is available here.
2014-Sep-03 ANA General Membership meeting: Presentation on Austin Oaks PUD by NWACA residents Ann Denkler and Ben Luckens illustrating how the proposed development would negatively affect adjacent neighborhoods.

Following Q&A, a motion was passed with unanimous vote of the membership authorizing ANA to oppose the Austin Oaks PUD rezoning as incompatible with our adjacent neighborhoods. [Soon after, BCA, NWACA, and NSCNA voted to oppose the PUD.]

2014-Aug-19 Community meeting: Organized by NWACA to hear presentations from PDRD and the Drenner Group. Q&A followed. The meeting was attended by residents of all surrounding neighborhoods. Joyce Statz, NWACA President, reported:

More than 300 people attended the Community Meeting about the Austin Oaks PUD on Tuesday, August 19, and most were very actively engaged. Neighbors provided a clear message to the City staff and the developer’s staff that those present oppose the plans for the PUD they have outlined. The feedback forms gathered at the meeting show that 93% oppose, 4% are neutral, and 3% favor the planned PUD.

Austin Planning & Development Review Department Presentation: A PUD is essentially a blank piece of paper; the City has a set of rules for developing them, but each crafts its own unique rules for the development of the property, including modifications (variances) to the City land development code, including flexibility over conventional zoning relating to height, density, building coverage, and impervious cover.

The PUD designation and its rules apply in perpetuity.

Gaining approval of a PUD requires that the applicant demonstrate the “superiority” of its planned approach over conventional zoning.

In the process of determining the superiority of the PUD (over conventional zoning), the City can ask for things in exchange that don’t otherwise apply. City Staff needs to feel that they’re getting a good exchange of value for granting the PUD zoning.

Among the superiority areas the City looks for is a contribution to affordable housing (either on-site or fee in lieu).

Drenner Group (Presenting for the Owner/Developer, Spire Realty): All of the Austin Oaks property is covered by the PUD application; the property is a total of 31.37 acres.

The current uses of the property are 2 and 3-story office buildings, with paved parking. All of the space is leased now, and it’s expected that re-development would not begin until about 2020.

Buildings in the current PUD site plan range in height from 5 stories on the western edge (near Hart Lane) to the taller ones at the eastern edge near MoPac. The tall ones are 17.5 stories, one with 10 levels of office and 7.5 levels of parking structure and another with 11 levels of office and 6.5 levels of parking.

The PUD plan incorporates aspects of Imagine Austin, the City’s comprehensive plan that was adopted in June of 2012. It has characteristics of a Neighborhood Center, is situated across MoPac from a projected transit center intended for light rail.

Q&A Highlights: Most people had comments and questions about the density impact of planned residential use as well as office use: traffic, overcrowding of schools, height of buildings that were incompatible with the existing neighborhood, and anticipated higher taxes.

Suggested alternatives that were reinforced by several questions included parks or playgrounds, housing for retirees, bike lanes, and hiking trails.

Several questioners asked for additional research—such as meeting with AISD representatives, expanding the traffic analysis, getting more community input from working sessions with the developer.

2014-Jul-30 Documents related to the proposed Austin Oaks PUD to date are available here.
2014-Jul-06 NWACA meeting: Met with Zoning Committee to discuss the proposed PUD; questions raised to ask the Drenner Group:

  • Why the need for 14- and 17-story CBD-style building heights?
  • How does a PUD benefit the community more than building out to current zoning?
  • How do they meet Imagine Austin’s definition of a Neighborhood Center (the smallest)?
  • How family-friendly is it?
  • What will the impact to schools be?
  • Why is there so much office vs. retail?
  • What percentage of residential is owned vs. rented?
  • How is parking allocated and is it shared?
  • How are traffic flow percentages derived?
  • How will pedestrians get from the PUD to future commuter rail across MoPac?
2014-Jun-30 Drenner Group meeting: Representatives of ANA, BCA, NWACA, Williamsburg Charleston Place, and others met to hear the redevelopment plan presented by representatives of Spire Realty (the property owners).

Current configuration: 450,000 sq. ft. office space in 12 buildings, 1–3 stories, on ~31 acres.

Proposed: 1.6 million sq. ft.: office (878 k), retail (112 k), restaurant (10 k), residential (650 k: 36 townhomes, 2-3 story; 575 apts. 4-story), and parking structures.

Heritage trees: 76 on-site; will ask to remove 9.

Impervious cover: will build at 15% below allowable.

Open space: will provide 25% above required.

Community benefits: 3,500 jobs, public meeting space, considering park/playground, considering 10% units affordable (at 60% Mean Family Income).

Parking: integrated and adjacent structures; some surface parking.

Traffic: Access to MoPac managed lane; bike lane to Metro Rapid [on Burnet Rd]; expecting future light rail station east side of MoPac on Anderson Lane.

Current: 450k sq. ft. office space = 4,248 trips/day.

Future: 1.6m sq. ft. mixed use = 25,333 trips/day

Distribution: 25% MoPac (N & S); 20% Spicewood & Anderson; 5% Hart & Woodhollow.

2014-Jun-16 Planning & Development Review Dept.: Received June 13, 2014 notice of completion of a project assessment report and presentation to the city council, case #CD-2014-0010, Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development, proposed zoning change. Location: southwest corner of Spicewood Springs Road and MoPac Expressway: 3409, 3420, 3429, 3445, 3520, 3636, 3701, 3721, 3724, and 3737 Executive Center Drive and 7601, 7718, and 7719 Wood Hollow Drive.

Notified ANA’s Zoning Committee and LDC Committee members:

From: Kata Carbone <kata@>
Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 7:38 PM
Subject: Development across MoPac

This is about a proposed PUD. I couldn’t quite figure where it was in relation to Allandale  (I couldn’t read the street names on the back of the notice), so I mapped it (see shaded area on the attached map). It’s across MoPac from Anderson Lane, but within 500-ft., which is why ANA received notice.

This 30+ acre complex was purchased last year by Spire Realty Group (spirerealty.com) out of Dallas. Looks like the plan is to replace 12 existing 1970s buildings with all new construction. The development assessment file doesn’t give a lot of detail at this stage, but what really caught my attention was “proposed building height 225-ft.” That’s like 20 stories—skyscraper range in these parts. I don’t think I’ve seen anything higher than 7 stories outside Austin’s CBD.

Case #: CD-2014-0010
This is a rezoning request: from LO, LR, GR to PUD.
Location: Spicewood Springs Road at MoPac.
Current configuration: 12 existing buildings on 31.37 acres (of note: shoal creek watershed, 68 heritage trees)
Proposed use: new townhomes, multifamily, retail, restaurant, office, structured parking.

Will this reflect on the future development of Anderson Lane?