Austin Oaks Proposed Redevelopment
Background on the Zoning Case
What is it? Austin Oaks is 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 office buildings, 300 multi-family residential units, retail, restaurants, a 2-acre park. [Update: max building height was lowered from 17 stories, to 10, to 7. Residential units now exclude families with children. The plan now also includes a hotel.]
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 4,248 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. Buildings over 5 stories would set an undesirable precedent along MoPac.
- 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, far exceeding neighborhood-serving development. [Update: in Feb. 2016, Union Pacific Railroad terminated commuter rail negotiations.]
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’s Joyce Statz for organizing initial meetings.)
- Allandale Neighborhood Association
- Balcones Civic Association
- Northwest Austin Civic Association
- North Shoal Creek N.A.
- Williamsburg Charleston Place
Where are we now? Following a week-long design charrette at the end of January 2016 (see daily charrette reports in the timeline, below), unsatisfactory levels remain related to building heights in excess of 5 stories, overall square footage resulting in excessive traffic, and heritage tree removal.
Austin’s comprehensive plan, “Imagine Austin” densifies where possible at the edges of established neighborhoods with a mixed use “live/work/play” scenario that is meant to reduce the need to drive. We question whether the Austin Oaks charrette plan represents an adequate mix of square footage with:
and wonder precisely how public transit will reduce auto-centric travel to and from Austin Oaks.
While NWACA opposed the first PUD go-round because their residents were overwhelmingly opposed, their board members support the charrette process and design outcome, believing that the process was fair and that the ultimate design represents their community’s desires. They cite majority attendance from NW Hills but they didn’t analyze daily head counts. Working group members from the surrounding neighborhoods (Allandale, Balcones Civic, North Shoal Creek, and numerous area HOAs) considered these factors relevant:
- “Vote night,” 28-Jan., was not announced to surrounding neighborhoods, but some NWACA board members apparently knew about it ahead of time and posted to special interest forums urging people to attend that night.
- The comparison between the code-compliant plan (utilizing current zoning categories) and the charrette design (requiring PUD rezoning) was heavily pitched as a de facto decision in favor of the charrette design by Doug Farr’s presentation and proselytizing from the floor.
- Of all nine public events related to the charrette, there were more attendees on “vote night” (113) than any other night, and more attendees (36) of that single event.
- NWACA reported that 64% of the votes were in favor of the charrette design, but did not mention that only 86 people voted, with 55 votes for the charrette design, and 31 for current zoning.
The only “focus group” participating throughout the process was the working group, and they called upon Spire to correct deficiencies in the charrette’s final design (see timeline entry of 02-Feb, below). Yet the NWACA board passed a resolution supporting the charrette design without waiting to hear how Spire would respond to the working group (Spire subsequently rejected the working group’s request).
(1) traffic generated(2) building heights(3) heritage tree loss
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.
- Austin Oaks hearing postponed again
- Strong divisions remain
- New Austin Oaks design unveiled
- Zoning commissioner voices concerns
- Developer & neighbors seek peaceful co-existence
- Developer & neighbors in productive dialogue
- Charrette set for January 2016
- New design process imminent
- ZAP delays PUD indefinitely
- Development on hold
- A tale of two PUDs
- Scaled-back plans still draw opposition
- Austin Oaks PUD Saga Continues
- Mixed-use plan dangles transportation incentives
- PUD project remains stalled
- Austin could make better use of PUDs
- Neighbors organize against NW PUD
- High-rise developer offers big incentives
- CodeNEXT advisory group meeting
- CoA PUD ordinance changes planned
- Council eyes curtailing fee-in-lieu PUDs
- Developers vow to pay affordable housing fees
- Huge Spicewood Springs/MoPac redevelopment
- Austin Oaks PUD Draws Concerns
- Council clarifies affordability calculations on PUD ordinance
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 or Against the PUD. Provide your name and address (for residency confirmation only).
A Timeline of Events follows (most recent first), with links to documents about the proposed PUD.
Timeline: Austin Oaks
|2016-Mar-31||ANA Awaits Update: When the Austin Oaks plan is available for review, ANA committee members should make a decision after considering:
(1) traffic generated
(2) building heights
(3) heritage tree loss
|2016-Mar-15||ZAP Case Postponed: The case was scheduled on the agenda simply to keep it from expiring. Since it will be some weeks before a site plan is submitted for staff to review, commissioners granted an indefinite postponement. Other than staff’s explanation, no discussion was anticipated. Listen to testimony under Item C1 given here, where Spire’s John Ruff was invited to speak, as were three NWACA representatives who had emailed the ZAP chair, Gabe Rojas, directly. All spoke in support of the charrette and the current design. As is standard procedure, a number of area residents had signed in to speak. After a slight kerfuffle as Mr. Rojas was about to proceed to the next agenda item, three residents were allowed to speak, all in opposition to the current design.|
|2016-Mar-01||Second Post-Charrette Working Group Meeting: It is expected to take 5 weeks for Spire’s design team, TBG, to refine the charrette plan into a workable site development plan. Spire’s Jon Ruff will not ask to deviate from the charrette plan. However, TBG was provided with the items requested by the working group (see 2016-Feb-02 entry, below), but it is not clear how the design team will respond to those requests. It’s possible that adjustments will be recommended due to infeasibility of one thing or another that could adequately address tree retention or equalize building heights, modifications that might satisfy the working group.
The case should go before the Zoning and Platting Commission on 15-March, and staff is expected to request another indefinite postponement.
|2016-Feb-24||Area HOA Boards Respond: Courtland Oaks HOA does not support the charrette outcome (see Courtland resolution). The Williamsburg HOA board voted to support the working group’s “Letter of No Confidence.”
Balcones Civic Assoc. Board will ask their membership to endorse or disapprove of the final plan. The board asks that Spire continue to develop and improve the plan in accordance with the objectives set during the vision and values workshops.
|2016-Feb-22||Spire’s Response is Pending: ANA is awaiting Spire’s response to the working group requests before considering whether to support or oppose the charrette redevelopment plan. At this time, a plan that does not differ substantially from the previous PUD application would likely not receive support.
The North Shoal Creek N.A. Development Committee is also waiting for the outcome of negotiations before recommending action to the directors and membership. The membership did vote against the last PUD zoning request and there is not enough change here that would change most peoples’ minds. A rejection is likely forthcoming if Spire’s counter isn’t substantially improved.
The Working Group is scheduled to meet again on 01-March.
|2016-Feb-20||Working Group Issues “No Confidence” Letter: Austin Oaks working group members representing area neighborhoods (except NWACA) expressed a failure to meet key OSMs that were developed collaboratively over the course of the charrette (see No Confidence Letter).|
|2016-Feb-16||Balcones Civic Assoc. Board Weighs In: The BCA board of directors does not support the charrette plan and asks that negotiations continue (see BCA resolution).|
|2016-Feb-10||NW Austin Civic Assoc. Board Supports New Plan: The NWACA board of directors endorses the charrette process and supports the outcome (see NWACA resolution).|
|2016-Feb-02||Post-Charrette Working Group Meeting: The group agreed to work together on a negotiation with Spire to achieve a better outcome. Most in the group agreed to move forward by negotiating to address reducing overall square footage to reduce traffic impacts, possibly reorienting buildings to preserve more heritage trees and to better resolve the matter of building height. These were the group’s specific requests:
The Working Group’s goal is to bring the plan in line with what was expressed during the vision and values workshops to meet the OSMs that were developed publicly as a group. While the current plan generally follows the neighborhood input, it fails in terms of traffic and building height, two of the most important issues cited by participants.
|2016-30-Jan||Analysis: Attendees by Neighborhood
Sign-in sheets were provided at all events: Information sessions, Vision & Values Workshops, and every day of charrette week. Here is the breakdown of attendees by neighborhood. The first page shows the distribution by neighborhood of all 251 individuals who attended at least one event; subsequent pages track how many days each of the 251 individuals participated (only the individual’s neighborhood is listed, names and addresses were removed). The resulting tallies illustrate how many individuals attended each event (Attendees/day) and how many individuals attended only one event (Singletons/day).
Plan F Scorecard from Allandale
Despite the often kludgy charrette process, the final conceptual plan is a very pretty picture. The TBG team’s renderings are absolutely beautiful and illustrate without a doubt that a picture is worth a thousand words, or perhaps in today’s economy, a million.
A 1,196,000 sq. ft. mixed-use development, top-heavy on office space—the major money-maker—with 846,000 sq. ft. of office spread over seven buildings, the plan also includes 210,000 sq. ft. of multi-family housing, a 90,000 sq. ft. hotel, 50,000 sq. ft. retail/restaurant, a 2-acre park adjacent to the housing, and 4 acres of open space (including the creek zone). This plan is similar in scale to the previous PUD application:
Traffic generation of 17,000 trips per day seems low. Traffic mitigation efforts will extend one mile to the west of the intersection of Spicewood Springs and MoPac, but will not extend east to Anderson Lane where 25% of the traffic is expected to impact Allandale and North Shoal Creek.
Analysis of tabletop comments from both Vision & Values workshops, organized by subject illustrate that modifications to the OSMs during charrette week resulted in overall failures related to traffic generation, tree preservation, and building height (see MoPac building height survey).
Looking at the top three concerns from Allandale’s perspective on the east side of the Spicewood/Anderson/MoPac intersection:
and assessing each of them by Allandale’s metrics provides our basis in scoring the final design.
|2016-29-Jan||Charrette Day 5: Attendee Log: 48
Final Day Presentation
|2016-28-Jan||Charrette Day 4: Attendee Log: 113
Results from Wednesday’s show of hands straw poll were:
Design Team’s “Preferred Plan” Presented
Plan F was rolled out for review. Charrette participants had been asking since Tuesday’s tabletop exercise for the code-compliant design to be among the options from which to choose, so it was introduced tonight for a vote. The comparison was heavily pitched as a de facto decision in favor of the new plan vs. “what’s there now” by both the presentation and proselytizing from the floor.
Vote results were: 55 in favor of design team’s recommended Plan F, and 31 in favor of the code-compliant plan.
|2016-27-Jan||Charrette Day 3: Attendee Log: 54
Two Alternative Designs Presented
|2016-26-Jan||Charrette Day 2: Attendee Log: 105
1. Three Alternative Designs Presented
5. More About Traffic
|2016-25-Jan||Charrette Day 1: Attendee Log: 57
1. Review of Objectives, Strategies, & Measures (OSMs)
2. Transportation 101
3. Environmental Site Analysis
4. History & Demographics
Rich Denney (NW Hills resident) provided a history of Spicewood Springs based on his extensive research.
Chuck Stahl (Barrow and Stahl Architects) reviewed the development history of NW Hills, telling the story from his personal experience helping to develop the area.
Time constraints prevented Ben Luckens from presenting an overview of Allandale.
5. Market Analysis 101
Terry Mitchell (Momark Development) on the related nature of large issues facing Austin—transportation, housing, affordability—and how density addresses some of the issues.
Stayton Wright (Cresa) on what commercial office tenants are looking for (e.g. many are seeking locations that integrate live/work/play to support a quality lifestyle), and how large & small companies ask for such sites, especially when courting the millennial workforce.
7. Town Planning 101
8. The Reference Plans
|2016-Jan-25 to Jan-29||Design Charrette week 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].
Charrette Week Schedule: Your participation is encouraged during all sessions highlighted in yellow—especially during the evening sessions. All sessions highlighted in blue are open to the public for observation; these are times when the design team will be transforming our input into visual representations of various development scenarios.
|2016-Jan-13||In yesterday’s V&V workshop (the second of two), 85 participants gathered for a tabletop exercise to discuss and record their preferences for redevelopment of Austin Oaks and ideas about how to achieve them. Captured as “Objectives & Strategies” in seven categories (Design/Aesthetics, Transportation, Environment, Economic, Regulatory, Culture, and Equity), along with “Measures” that were added by Farr Associates and some of the working group members, “Objectives, Strategies, & Measures” (OSMs) emerged to help guide design options.
Results of Both Vision & Values Workshops
Attendee Log: 133 (48 on 16-Dec, 85 on 12-Jan)
Community members provided input about what they want and don’t want to see in the redevelopment of Austin Oaks. In table-top exercises of 6–10 neighbors per table, they discussed and recorded their views and ideas about how to achieve them—captured as “Objectives & Strategies”—in seven categories.
Objectives are goals to be achieved; strategies are possible methods to achieve those goals. In some cases, alternatives from different perspectives may be in conflict. Strategies are not absolute requirements, rather, they represent ways in which groups within the community believe the objectives can be reached. “Measures”—ways to quantify how well the strategies are met—were added by some of the working group members and Farr Associates. Together these are supposed to comprise the “Objectives, Strategies, & Measures” (OSMs) that help guide the redevelopment design options.
Hundreds of workshop comments were consolidated into a 6-page draft of OSMs, available here. The OSMs are to be developed further during the charrette and will be the first item of discussion, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 25.
Original Objectives & Strategies (scanned) from both Vision & Values workshops are available here. There were 16 tables in all; the first 6 pages are from the 16-December workshop and the remaining 10 pages are from the 12-January workshop. An analysis of tabletop comments from both Vision & Values workshops, organized into seven categories, along with counts of specific objectives that were of particular importance to participants is available here.
|2016-Jan-12||Visions & Values Workshop #2: 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Austin Board of Realtors (Auditorium A), 4800 Spicewood Springs Rd.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)
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)
6. Next Steps
|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 in that timeframe. 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.
Neighborhood Vision and Values Workshops: Please participate in one of these meetings to provide input.
Charrette Design Workshop: As the workshop schedule is finalized, additional information is forthcoming about how neighbors can participate.
|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 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:
*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:
|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).
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||The Austin Neighborhoods Council 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:
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:
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.
NW Austin Neighborhood Alliance:
Official Position Regarding Proposed Austin Oaks PUD
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:
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.
Debra Bailey-President, Balcones Civic 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:
|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:
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?