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Thornton Road developer nixes zoning request

Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Developer PSW Real Estate on Wednesday withdrew its request for a change to multifamily (MF-4) zoning for 2413 Thornton Road in South Austin, as well as its application to the neighborhood housing department for participation in the city’s Smart Housing Program. The zoning change is on today’s City Council agenda for third reading.

The property is currently zoned for commercial development. PSW division president Ross Wilson told the Austin Monitor on Wednesday, “We have made the decision to move forward with the commercial project. This is based on a large number of conversations with the South Lamar Neighborhood Association and Council Member (Ann) Kitchen’s office.” Wilson said he was not sure how long it would be before they submitted plans to the city.

When informed that the developer would likely decide to build the commercial development, Bryan King of the South Lamar Neighborhood Association told the Monitor via email, “We are OK with the commercial building on that flag lot set back from the road. Traffic will likely only be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and it is possible that we will have some neighborhood friendly businesses there.”

At its March 2 meeting, Council voted to zone the property multifamily-2, which would have allowed the developer to build 42 units on property that is currently a junkyard. Wilson and his agent, Glen Coleman, argued in favor of MF-4, which would have allowed 70 units.

The neighborhood had objected strenuously to the MF-4 request, which would increase congestion on a narrow street that is already difficult to navigate.

With MF-4 zoning, PSW promised to provide affordable housing in 10 percent of the 70 units, but said that there would be no affordable housing with fewer units. Coleman and Wilson also said that it was not economically feasible to build the MF-2 project.

The developer will be required to pay into a fund at the city to widen Thornton Rd., but will not be responsible for actually doing the work.

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