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Cirrus Logic downtown campus takes another step towards approval

Monday, April 29, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

Inching ever forward, Cirrus Logic is one step closer to obtaining the zoning it needs to expand their downtown campus.

 

Last Thursday, City Council approved a request to change zoning at 800 West Sixth Street and 602-702 West Avenue to DMU-CURE on one tract and DMU on the second tract on first reading.

 

The vote was 5-1, with Council Member Kathie Tovo voting in opposition and Council Member Mike Martinez absent.

 

Though Armbrust & Brown attorney Richard Suttle called it a “fairly simple zoning case,” he asked that City Council only approve the zoning on first reading, in the hopes that the remaining conflicts with the neighborhood could be ironed out before the case returns to Council.

 

Under the new zoning, Cirrus Logic would be able to expand its 90-foot tall downtown office building onto a tract currently only 60 feet. This is would create an exception to the Downtown Austin Plan, though developers are only asking for the additional height on one tract of the property.

 

Joe Bryson, who lives adjacent to the project, said that going against Downtown Plan would be “bad policy,” and argued that if the company slowed down, stepped back, and took another look at their land and future plans, they could create a better project.

 

Neighbors also dispute the need for more parking on the site, which they say is excessive and unnecessary. They worry that the parking lot will dwarf their homes, and argue that a parking lot is an inappropriate addition so close to the Shoal Creek Trail.

 

Suttle explained that it was very much needed for the office that is currently there. He said that the company is currently shuttling employees in from satellite parking locations in order to accommodate employees. 

 

The company is also asking that a current trip-limit on the property be changed to allow two restaurants on the ground floor to use their outdoor patios for seating. The change would, according to code, violate the current 2,000 per day trip limitation.

 

“That one doesn’t seem to be picking up any opposition,” noted Suttle.

 

Blake Tollett, who made it clear he was speaking only for himself, highlighted concerns about the overall plan for the company, which owns quite a bit of property in the area. He asked for a campus plan from the company, before any zoning was approved.

 

“They are bringing this to you piecemeal,” said Tollett.

 

Though unrelated to this rezoning case, Suttle spoke to the Cirrus Logic’s recently-obtained demolition permit for 606 Rio Grande Street, which was once home to the Aquarelle Restaurant. Suttle said that they would hold off on demolition of the historic house for six months, in order to allow those interested in saving the structure to work on relocating it. Cirrus Logic has offered the cost of demolition to anyone who would like to relocate the house.

 

Suttle said that they had met with the Original Austin Neighborhood Association several times, and agreed to all of the conditions, though several were “agreements with further need for discussion.”

 

Planning and Development Review Director Greg Guernsey said that while there was a petition against the rezoning, it had yet to be validated, and was lacking a signature.

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