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Developer gets five-year extension on Bee Cave-area site plan

Thursday, June 23, 2011 by Kimberly Reeves

A developer tested the waters on extending the site plan on an undeveloped Bee Cave-area office park and got five years from the Zoning and Platting Commission Tuesday night.


Agent Paul Linehan of Land Strategies represented owner Beth Robertson, the developer of Davenport Ranch, who bought the 27 acres on RM 2244 back in 1972. The sequence of events, as Linehan explained to ZAP, goes something like this: Robertson filed a preliminary plan on the land, located in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, in 1984. A final plat for the first lot was offered in 1989. The city gave administrative approval to an amended plat, with an adjusted downstream buffer zone, in 2007.


The property, located between Crystal Creek Drive and River Hills Road, would be developed with nine two-story office buildings in three phases. Even though the property’s timeline was extended in 2007, and then again for a year in 2010, Robertson still is not ready to break ground.


Linehan asked for a seven-year site plan extension. City staff was ready to recommend three years. The developer could go ahead and break ground and lay some parking lots on the project, just to keep the site in play, but it just made no sense in the current economic climate.


“We didn’t want to go scar the land to get a site plan extension,” Linehan said. “We believe we need a seven-year extension to get this project done.”


To back up his assertions, Linehan presented a letter from Charles Heimsath of Capitol Market Research. In the letter, Heimsath noted that no new office project had broken ground in the Southwest quadrant since 2007 and that only 450,000 square feet of 1.42 million square feet of new construction built in the area had been absorbed in recent years.


“If we had built these buildings back in 2007, they would be sitting vacant,” Linehan said. “We could build three buildings in two years, but we’re not expecting the market to turn around for another year or two.”


This particular piece of land, given its timeline, was subject to the Barton Creek Ordinance rather than the Save Our Springs Ordinance. The prior water quality ordinance limited development to 35 percent impervious cover with a 40 percent downstream buffer. The proposed project is 30 percent impervious cover.


If the plan had come in under current regulations, impervious cover on the site would be limited to 20 percent, city planner Sue Welch told the commission.


Chair Betty Baker had warned Linehan that with only four out of ZAP’s six commissioners present, he would have to earn every vote. And while Baker herself was inclined to give Linehan the full seven years, fellow commissioner Patricia Seeger was only ready to offer a five-year extension.


“I could make the motion to continue (this case) to July 5, but that motion isn’t going to pass, either,” Baker said. “The motion on the table is five years, and five years is better than three.”


Linehan was the only speaker on the case. No one rose in opposition. The vote to grant a five-year extension to the site plan passed 4-0, with Cynthia Banks and Donna Tiemann absent from the meeting.

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