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Monday, March 4, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns
Commission drills down on Grove at Shoal Creek park plans
After years of contentious planning, the Grove at Shoal Creek has broken ground and begun construction on the first two blocks of residences of this mixed-use development in central Northwest Austin.
The plan for the accompanying parkland remains under discussion.
At the Feb. 26 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board, Robert Deegan, a partner at Rialto Studio who is working on the project, explained that they were looking for the board’s recommendation so they could present the master plan to the Parks and Recreation Department director for final approval. “We want to deliver the park along with the rest of the construction,” Deegan explained. Under the agreement made with Council, once the plan is approved, the developer will have up to six months to present a finalized site plan.
The first phase, which will cost $1.16 million, is the only portion of the master plan that the developer is committing to financially. That phase, however, does not include an off-leash dog park – a top priority for area residents.
“From the summaries that I saw that was one of the top priorities … so I’m a little surprised,” said Board Member Dawn Lewis.
Deegan explained that the plan balanced what City Council required the developer to deliver. That meant some of the community’s “top priorities” were actually obligatory. Still, he said, “It’s still a fairly good reflection of the community’s expressed desire.”
Plans for a dog park appear in the $2.55 million second phase of the plan, but funding for the second phase is not guaranteed. However, Charles Mabry with the parks department said, “The parks department is making a commitment to get the off-leash area built.” He said the department has already looked into ways to procure funding and hopes to start designing this fall. The dog park is expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000.
While phase two is still a ways out, phase one will begin within the next year and will include additional trail connections as well as enhancements to the Shoal Creek Trail and the installation of a Great Lawn and a pond.
The park, Deegan explained, will be public, but will also be an attractive amenity to Grove residents, so he said that the developer was eager to move the process along as quickly as possible. In the original agreement with the city, ARG Bull Creek Ltd., the owner of the property, will have two additional years after the opening of the commercial sites to open the park, but Deegan insisted that the timeline is not expected to be that long. “I think for the opening of the park, two years is a realistic timeline,” he said.
The entire park master plan includes a 16.25-acre signature park and a pocket park. The park will belong to the city of Austin, though ARG will be responsible for its ongoing maintenance.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Parks and Recreation Board: The city’s Parks and Recreation Board members deal with the acquisition, development, improvement, and maintenance of Austin’s parks and playgrounds.
Planned Unit Development: A zoning classification designated by the city to allow greater flexibility for projects within its boundaries.