The FAQ below was provided by the Bull Creek Road Coalition (BCRC) in August 2015. Comprised of representatives of the RNA and six other local neighborhoods, the BCRC has been trying to help steer the sale and development of the former state land (at Bull Creek and 45th Street) towards an optimal final product for the surrounding neighborhoods as well as for the residents of The Grove itself.
The Rosedale Neighborhood Association was a founding partner of the BCRC, shares it’s vision and goals. The RNA has two active participants: Gina Allen is the secretary of the BCRC, and Chris Allen serves on the BCRC design guidelines committee. Gina and Chris have been residents of Rosedale for more than two decades. They played an active role in helping to ensure the most positive outcome for other major local projects and initiatives, including Central Park (and Market), The Triangle, McMansion, and VMU (Variable Mixed Use) Corridors.
This FAQ helps spell out who the BCRC is, what the project and issues are, competing interests, and how you can get involved to help get this major project done in the best way to benefit the local area, the city, the developer, and the ultimate residences of the project.
This topic (as you’ll read) is tricky, given the competing interests. If you want to stay in the loop see the end of the FAQ. Also this topic is being discussed in depth pretty much daily on the Rosedale Yahoo Groups Listserv and elsewhere. Please also get involved to help ensure the best possible outcome for all, especially the affected adjacent neighborhoods, like Rosedale. Find out how here: bcrcatx.org/get-involved/.
A: The BCRC was formed in 2012 and is made up of residents of the seven neighborhoods surrounding the 75-acre former State-owned tract in Central Austin. Once it became clear the State intended to sell or lease the tract for private development, the neighborhoods formed this coalition to work constructively with the State, City, and prospective developers to ensure that the tract is developed in a way that will be compatible with and enhance the existing neighborhoods.
Q: What neighborhoods are represented by the BCRC?
A: The neighborhoods represented in the Coalition are Ridgelea, Rosedale, Oakmont Heights, Allandale, Bryker Woods, Highland Park West / Balcones Area, and Westminster Manor, which together comprise more than 7,500 Central Austin households.
Q: What is so special about this 75-acre site?
A: The land fronting Bull Creek Road is gradually sloping to the Ridgelea neighborhood / Shoal Creek and lends itself to development. This area is currently the site of some 1-story buildings used by TxDOT. The eastern half of the property is bounded by Shoal Creek and slopes downward significantly toward the creek. This area includes a grove of magnificent heritage oak trees and a striking array of Texas wildflowers rugged enough to dazzle even in our drought conditions. Other heritage oak and pecan trees are scattered throughout the site. The eastern edge of the site is within the floodplain and is a critical water quality zone. The beautiful natural elements of this site cannot be found, or found on a similar scale, anywhere else in central Austin. Except for Bull Creek Road, the site is completely surrounded by single family homes and Shoal Creek.
Q: How does the BCRC get feedback about the concerns and priorities of the neighborhoods?
A: The BCRC Board is comprised of neighborhood liaisons to each coalition neighborhood and two standing committee chairpersons for 45th and Idlewild residents adjacent to the site. Neighborhood liaisons receive feedback directly from residents in their neighborhoods, neighborhood association (NA) meetings, NA email groups and websites, and participation of residents at BCRC meetings. The BCRC also conducted a survey of all coalition neighborhoods prior to the land being sold. The BCRC continues to receive feedback from residents now that the land is sold and the developer has made public their plan to develop the site.
Q: What were the results of the neighborhood survey?
A: The BCRC surveyed residents in all seven neighborhoods surrounding the site prior to the State selling the land in 2014. A total of 700 people responded to the survey. In general, the survey results revealed:
- Over 92% of respondents prefer a development of low to medium density that includes mostly housing, small apartments, and small retail and offices.
- Over 92% of respondents indicated that traffic generated by development of the site would affect them.
- As it relates to traffic generated by commercial uses, nearly 85% of respondents preferred small businesses such as bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, and a small grocery store (such as Russell’s Bakery or Wheatsville Co-op).
- Nearly 95% of respondents prefer that 30 or more acres should be included as greenspace in the development.
Q: What is the developer proposing for the site?
A: MileStone is proposing a mixed-use urban infill development for the site. As of now, we don’t know for sure what exactly will be built on the site, but we have three primary sources of information: the PUD zoning application, the Traffic Impact Analysis, and the conceptual master plan – all prepared by MileStone.
The PUD application includes a land use plan with 7 tracts of varying allowable uses and maximum building heights. The largest tract, B, calls for building heights up to 65 feet with some allowed up to 75 feet (6 or 7 stories tall). Allowable uses – over 65 in tract B – include uses like multi-family residential, automotive sales, trade school, food sales, hotel-motel, theater, hospital services, and congregate living.
The PUD application requests up to 1,515 residential units (not including affordable units), 225,000 square feet of office space (approximately 40% as much office space as the downtown Frost Tower), and 150,000 square feet of retail (shopping center). The PUD land use plan does not include any tracts dedicated to parkland but shows an “approximate” location for open space. The PUD application indicates 17 acres of open space that includes private park, drainage, detention, and water quality facilities.
The traffic impact analysis (TIA) prepared by MileStone anticipates traffic generation from the site to be 17,000 to 24,000 trips per day. The lower figure includes reduction estimates for “internal capture” and transit users. For reference, the existing traffic on Bull Creek Road is currently about 7,500 trips per day. The TIA also proposes some improvements to surrounding intersections to be completed in 2020 and 2024.
MileStone has presented two conceptual master plans, the most recent of which was released on July 9th. The conceptual master plan does not indicate heights of buildings or number of units. Based on “best fit” scaling of the conceptual master plan, it is difficult to determine if the picture matches the figures in the PUD application.
The BCRC, City staff, and Council have all requested additional information from MileStone to have a clear idea of what they plan to build.
Q: What is the BCRC Alternative Vision?
A: The BCRC provided feedback to MileStone via written design principles, meetings, and letters as soon as MileStone was identified as the purchaser of the property. After 4 months of providing feedback on the conceptual master plan, the BCRC opted to conduct an informal design charrette process to develop an Alternative Vision that encompasses the majority of feedback received from the neighborhoods.
The Alternative Vision can be downloaded here:
The Alternative Vision generally provides for greater usable parkland and park amenities, a more appropriate scale for building height compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, encourages missing middle housing types and dispersed on-site affordable housing, flood controls for downstream neighborhoods, an abundance of bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, and extensive traffic mitigation. The BCRC hopes the Alternative Vision will provide a basis for discussion as we try to move toward a shared vision with the developer and City. Bull Creek Road Coalition 3 of 4 Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are people saying they are being denied due process and valid petition rights by the City?
A: State law provides for property owners within 200 feet of a proposed zoning change to petition the change in zoning. If enough signatures are collected, the petition is considered “valid” and requires a super-majority vote in Council to approve the zoning change. MileStone is requesting a change in zoning for this property from “un-zoned” to “planned unit development (PUD).” The State law allowing the petitioning of changes in zoning was intended to provide protections to property owners and a process to encourage developers and neighbors to work together to find mutually agreeable solutions to zoning and development disputes.
Due to the language used in the City Code governing the petitioning rights for changes in zoning, the City has taken the position that property owners within 200 feet of MileStone’s property cannot petition the PUD zoning application. Many of these neighbors feel that this interpretation by the City is unjust and a denial of due process and that it diminishes the voice and influence of those most impacted by the proposed zoning change.
The denial of valid petition rights by the City is a subject that all Austinites care about since there are many parcels of “un-zoned” State land throughout the City. The City takes the position that neighbors within 200 feet of all these “un-zoned” tracts do not have valid petition rights. Since other pieces of State land are likely to be sold for private development within the next few years, the MileStone PUD zoning case will set an important precedent for how the City deals with these issues throughout Austin moving forward.
The BCRC has consulted with attorneys on the subject of valid petition rights and continues to explore all options as we try to convince our elected officials to enable these rights for our neighbors. If you have expertise in this subject or think you can help, please contact us!
Q: How can I help the BCRC and stay informed?
A: The most impactful thing you can do to influence the development of the site is to email the Mayor and Council with your concerns and support for the BCRC. Contact us for a list of email addresses for City and Commission leaders or you can send a message through the City’s website here: austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members
Please also visit the BCRC Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/BullCreekRoadCoalition You can also stay informed and join the conversation about this development by joining the BCRC Google Group. Email BCRC_communications@googlegroups.com with the following information:
- Your name
- Your email address
- Your neighborhood
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