Project calls for 12,000 homes in eastern Travis County
Statesman - 10/5/2018
An Austin-based development firm said Thursday that it plans to build a project on 2,122 acres in eastern Travis County that could bring upwards of 12,000 homes and apartments, plus more than 2 million square feet of commercial space, to a growing part of Central Texas.
GroundWork, an affiliate of MG Realty Investments and Momark Development, is seeking approvals from the city of Austin and Travis County to reclaim and transform a sand and gravel quarry that straddles both sides of the Texas 130 toll road into a mixed-use project.
The site is at Texas 130 and Harold Green Road, about 1 mile north of Texas 71. The land is currently owned by Martin Marietta Materials, which acquired it after buying Texas Industries Inc. in 2014. In 2012, TXI envisioned a large-scale mixed-use project called Rio de Vida on the land, but plans did not materialize.
The proposed project, preliminarily named Austin Green, calls for a town center-style community with moderately priced housing, job opportunities and recreational amenities, interspersed with 700 acres of public parks and open space, much of it along the Colorado River.
In the city’s Imagine Austin plan, a comprehensive blueprint to guide growth in the region, the site is designated for a town center, which means future development ideally would accommodate between 10,000 and 30,000 residents and a range of 5,000 to 20,000 jobs.
The Austin Green proposal envisions more than 12,000 homes and apartments mixed with 2.25 million square feet of commercial space, to be served by major roads and transit.
GroundWork consists of Austin development veterans Terry Mitchell, Bob Gass and Steven Spears. The team has more than a decade of experience in planning and developing high-profile projects together in the Austin area.
The project is expected to be built in phases in response to market demand, said Spears, a principal with GroundWork.
“A project of this size and magnitude can easily take 20 years to build out,” Spears said.
The team said they and their consultants have spent the past six months conducting a land analysis and creating a vision for how the Imagine Austin plan can be carried out on the site.
Mitchell, a partner with GroundWork, said in a written statement that the proposed project would help the city with a number of goals, including adding more moderately priced housing, reducing vehicle trips and enhancing Austin’s tax base.
“It makes all the sense in the world to concentrate a reasonable amount of density on this site,” Spears said. “Nearly 30 percent of Austin’s metropolitan area jobs are located within 3 miles of downtown, and this site is just 8 miles from downtown. Additionally, this site sits along multiple major transportation arteries and is inherently less controversial given that no one currently lives on it — meaning displacement is a non-issue. A reasonable amount of density is also the only way we’ll be able to achieve attainably-priced homes, retail and office space.”
Vaike O’Grady, Austin regional director for Metrostudy, which tracks the housing market, said the project would bring needed services to an area where homebuyers are moving, due to its proximity to downtown and relative affordability.
Pete Dwyer, developer of the WildHorse Ranch project to the north of the proposed Austin Green site on Texas 130, said turning old sand and gravel mines into greenways, parks and neighborhoods “would really enhance the area.”
“The area is growing rapidly and close in development land — even if it has to be restored — is getting ever more valuable,” Dwyer said. “Most folks don’t know that the Texas 130 corridor between Pflugerville to the north and Texas 71 to the south grinds to stop and go traffic during morning and evening rush hour. That is why the Texas Department of Transportation is investing substantial resources right now to make lane improvements on Texas 130 in both directions where Austin Green is planned.”
The developers of the proposed Austin Green project said it was too early to estimate a cost.