About Us

Make a Donation
Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism

Planning Commission puts off

Wednesday, June 20, 2001 by

New battle over Hyde Park plans

Montopolis Neighborhood Plan also postponed

Last night, the Planning Commission postponed until July 10 consideration of whether to rescind the group’s approval of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan, but not without a fight.

Commission Chair Betty Baker said Commissioner Silver Garza, who was absent, had asked to postpone the matter because he could not attend last night’s meeting. Garza, Baker and two other commissioners signed a letter asking the City Council to return the plan to them so they might reconsider their previous approval. That letter caused the Council to postpone consideration of the plan last week. (See In Fact Daily, June 15, 2001)

Commissioner Robin Cravey was adamantly opposed to the delay. Baker said she was ruling—as Chair—that the request from Garza would be honored. Cravey, the parliamentarian of the commission, said he was appealing the ruling of the chair to the full commission. He took the position that the item was not properly on the agenda because those requesting it had not given a reason for reconsidering the contentious matter. The commission upheld Baker’s ruling that the item was proper on a vote of 4-3, with Commissioners Jim Robertson, Ray Vrudhula and Sterling Lands joining Baker. Commissioners Jean Mather and Lydia Ortiz voted with Cravey, and Commissioner Ben Heimsath, a Hyde Park resident, abstained.

Baker asked for one neighborhood representative to tell the commission whether the case should be postponed until next Tuesday or July 10—since the commission is not meeting on July 2. Neighborhood leader Karen McGraw said, “Next week is the only week in my life that I have chosen not to be in this city because I have put in 10 years on this plan.” She said she wondered when all eight commissioners would be there, concluding, “How long will we be held hostage by the ( Hyde Park Baptist) church? Because they are using you.”

Baker warned her, “We will not hold a public hearing on July 10. We will consider whether we can reconsider and rescind.”

Lands made the motion to postpone. Heimsath abstained and the motion passed 4-3 on a vote identical to the previous one.

The battle is basically over whether the church is required to comply with the Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan’s strict regulations or only with the regulations set forth in the church’s NCCD of 1990. (See In Fact Daily, May 23, 2001, May 24, 2001)

The church had previously asked to be explicitly left out of the Hyde Park NCCD—a zoning overlay modifying the existing Land Development Code. The second was to add land to its own NCCD, which was created in 1990 to cover property the church owned at the time.

Montopolis neighbors ask for delay

Members of the commission also postponed a decision on the Montopolis Neighborhood Plan once again. The accompanying zoning issues, which were under a separate agenda item, were also put off. Both items will be addressed at the commission’s July 17th meeting.

City staff requested postponement of the zoning issues related to the Neighborhood Plan, saying that there was not adequate notification to all the property owners. But staff recommended going ahead with consideration of the Neighborhood Plan itself.

Mario Flores with the Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department told Commissioners that delaying consideration of the plan could have some unintended consequences. “Other property owners can continue to bring their (zoning change) requests forward. It would cause a line of people to come up requesting action by the Planning Commission,” Flores said. “By adopting it now, we can preserve the vision and the land-use map that the neighborhood constructed.”

Neighborhood activist and former Planning Commissioner Susana Almanza expressed frustration with the process up to this point. “Every time we have come up here the maps have changed,” Almanza said. “Last Thursday we had another meeting, and we were presented with another set of maps of our neighborhood plan.” Almanza requested additional time for members of the neighborhood to study the map.

That map included a proposed airport overlay. That overlay is designed to prevent residential development on land under the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport flight path (see In Fact Daily, May 2, 2001). Principal Planner Carol Barrett told commissioners that the overlay had previously been presented to members of the Neighborhood Planning Team. “The meeting that was conducted last Thursday was for the Department of Housing and Community Development to present to the neighborhood a proposal for re-zoning for the potential Jockey Club tract. It did not change the content of the plan,” Barrett said. “The airport overlay proposed by the Department of Aviation has been on the map and presented to the Neighborhood Planning Team.”

Cravey argued for hearing the plan and voting on it, Lands sided with Almanza and called for a postponement. “We honor the requests of other communities from other parts of this city,” Lands said. “It appears to me that if this community comes to us and makes a legitimate request, we should show to them the same level of interest in their concerns as we show to other communities.”

The vote to postpone was 4-3, with Commissioners Ortiz, Robertson and Cravey opposed.

Design Commission hears

City Lofts' plan for condos

Plans proceeding in spite of slowing economy

A Dallas developer is moving forward with the Austin City Lofts (ACL) on Fifth Street and West Avenue, despite the downturn in the local Austin economy.

The 11-story ACL is an 82-unit condominium project being developed by CLB Partners Ltd. CLB is best known for its flagship development of the 2011 Cedar Springs Road condominiums in downtown Dallas.

Architect Brett Rhoadie of Page Southerland Page presented the ACL to the Design Commission last night. The project made its first round of city commissions last fall, when the developer was seeking variances to build in the 100-year floodplain. After negotiations with various city departments, Page Southerland Page has made some adjustments in the design of the project, which will sit on the east bank of Shoal Creek.

The project will be located on the site where Miguel’s Imports is currently doing business, across from the new Post Properties project and the unfinished Intel project. The Design Commission is expected to make a recommendation on Smart Growth points on July 2. Rhoadie would like to see the project go to the City Council next month. Negotiations last fall between the developer and the city allowed variances for CLB to build up to 165 feet under DMU zoning with a CURE overlay.

“We are almost finished with the Smart Growth process,” said Rhoadie, adding that he had one final meeting scheduled with the Downtown Area Neighborhood Association. “We’re ready to go back to George Adams with our final drawings—and submit your comments—in the next couple of weeks. “

The size of the ACL condominium units will range from 1,100 to 3,500 square feet, Rhoadie said. He gave no indication of the price range of the condominium units, but said that CLB is already selling them and intends to start early foundation work in August, with the intention of pulling a building permit in early September. The developer has purchased the Jaguar dealership next door, sold the property and leased it back for an ACL marketing center, Rhoadie told commissioners.

Floodplain issues presented the biggest hurdles for the project. Negotiations with the city have included raising the building two feet off street level. The project was also pulled back 66 feet from the centerline of Shoal Creek.

The lower level of the garden, where the service entrance and pools would be located, is 7 to 8 feet below the flood plain and would flood in a 100-year rain event, Rhoadie said. The garden will be surrounded by a limestone trellis, which will face Shoal Creek. CLB’s offer to build a trail along the east bank of Shoal Creek, Rhoadie said, was turned down by the city Parks Department because of a neighboring project’s plan to offer a hike-and-bike trail along the west bank.

ACL, with its copper-plated shingle siding, will feature a ground floor garden on Shoal Creek, a Fifth Street arcade with 2,700 square feet of retail space and a four-story garage, with one floor underground. Six stories of the building will be devoted to flats. The top two floors will be two-story lofts featuring downtown views.

Page Southerland Page is the architect on the CSC project downtown and the Barbara Jordan Terminal at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The limestone façade on the CSC exterior will be a feature of the lower floor of the ACL tower and possibly also the garage. Rhoadie said the developer is still debating whether the garage should be finished in a copper patina mesh or with the more expensive limestone façade.

The design of the ACL will go to a three-member panel of the Design Commission for evaluation. The most significant objection to the project—raised by Commissioner Philip Reed—was a desire to see retail on the project stretch closer to the sidewalk and out to the corner of West and Fifth Street. Rhoadie told commissioners the retail on the project was not considered to be a moneymaking venture for the developer. Instead, the space would be offered up for low-intensity retail, such as a gallery or bookstore.

The West Avenue side of the project, however, will be limited because of the need to provide emergency exits. Austin Energy regulations also stipulate that the transformer be located at ground level on the West Avenue side, leaving a blank wall along that face of the building.

Rhoadie expressed some concern about a wall that might go up on the Marketplace Project on the opposing bank of Shoal Creek. Chair Juan Cotera pointed out that that project had not yet come before the Design Commission, while other commissioners commented that the Smart Growth matrix had increased out of concerns over the project.

“It was the fertilizer from which Smart Growth grew, and all that it entails,” Commissioner Girard Kinney said. To which Cotera remarked that it was time to raise the standards. “And now it’s time to get rid of the fertilizer,” quipped Cotera.

©2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Seen lunching at El Sol y La Luna yesterday . . . Clarke Hammond, president of the South River City Citizens neighborhood group and Terry Irion, attorney for developer Michael Alelli of the condos Hammond has dubbed the Villas at Exposé. We’ve heard that Alelli hates that name, but that’s what happens when you locate across the street from “a gentlemen’s club.” . . . Documentary on Austin’s World War II veterans . . . A locally produced video project will enlist Austin’s youth to write, produce, edit and market the documentary. The Austin Project will host a round table today at 5:30 the Lorraine “Grandma” Camacho Activity Center to introduce the project to the community. For more information call 391-1863 . . . Postponed again . . .The Planning Commission postponed a decision on a requested environmental variance for Clayton’s Crossing last night. Commissioners did hold a public hearing on the variance for a driveway on land owned by CongressmanLloyd Doggett (D-Austin), but wanted more information from city staff before taking any action. The item will be reconsidered at the July 10th meeting after commissioners get documentation on whether the site, which currently has two homes, is a legal lot. FYI Dallas Morning News Special Website on development districts:

Join Your Friends and Neighbors

We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Back to Top