In the last several weeks, members of the NWACA Board and of the Zoning Committee have met with the Mayor and members of City Council to discuss the plans for Austin Oaks. We have reiterated our support for the outcome of the charrette, for which we were the original champions with City Council and the Zoning and Platting Commission. (Details about the charrette and the PUD submissions that have followed are on the NWACA web site at Austin Oaks Charrette)
What we are hearing in meetings with Council is support for the general guidance that the charrette offers them, as they fine-tune their final decisions, wanting to preserve the overall mixed-use approach to the site, the restoration of the creek area, the development of a neighborhood park, and the overall improvements to the site’s drainage. There is strong support from Council members and the Mayor for efforts to mitigate the traffic impact of the development, including discussions of having the developer do more than the already-agreed-to $800K in mitigation. There is strong support for the residential housing of up to 250 units (see charrette plan), with discussion among Council of requiring more residential to be added (about 60% more).
The changes being considered by Council members will change the economic picture of this investment for the developer, so Council members are considering allowing increased office space in exchange for more residential units. One of these exchanges would remove the proposed hotel and turn that space into office. Another exchange involves adding more office space in two of the planned office buildings along MoPac, adding a floor to the two buildings which are now at lower elevations on the property.
As we met with the Mayor and talked with Council members, we reminded them of the neighborhood concerns about traffic, height, and the impact of residential on our crowded schools (reiterated in the recent survey we ran). Council members appreciate these neighborhood inputs, but they are also looking after the greatest needs of the City.
Topmost in the Mayor’s set of concerns is the affordability of Austin, determined mostly by the price of housing, which is a function of the available housing supply. He expects that CodeNEXT will identify ways in which all areas of the City can provide additional housing, with CodeNEXT identifying where and how that is expected to happen. Among the possibilities are adding density among single family homes (such as with duplexes and quadplexes) or doing so with multifamily homes concentrated along transit corridors and transition zones between those transit corridors and the single-family homes. The Mayor is concerned that the City needs to find ways to avoid becoming an unaffordable city like San Francisco.
This case comes before Council for its second reading this Thursday, March 2. If you have concerns and wish to express them, you can contact all City Council members and the Mayor at the list below, or you can appear at the public hearing at the City Council meeting.
All members: http://austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members
Hon Steve Adler [email protected] Tel 512-978-2100
Hon Ora Houston [email protected] Tel 512-978-2101
Hon Delia Garza [email protected] Tel 512-978-2102
Hon Sabino “Pio” Renteria [email protected] Tel 512-978-2103
Hon Gregorio “Greg” Casar [email protected] Tel 512-978-2104
Hon Ann Kitchen [email protected] Tel 512-978-2105
Hon Jimmy Flannigan Jimmy.Flannigan @austintexas.gov Tel 512-978-2106
Hon Leslie Pool [email protected] Tel 512-978-2107
Hon Ellen Troxclair [email protected] Tel 512-978-2108
Hon Kathie Tovo [email protected] Tel 512-978-2109
Hon Alison Alter [email protected] Tel 512-978-2110
To learn more about the upcoming land development code, CodeNEXT, go to this link: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/codenext