You may have seen the news; a developer has proposed a massive redevelopment plan for the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center at South Lamar and Loop 360, adjacent to the Barton Creek greenbelt. The proposed concept plan includes over 1500 apartments, 1.1 million square feet in office space, 450 hotel rooms, 110,000 square feet of retail space, and 30,000 square feet of restaurant space.
This is one of the largest projects we have seen proposed over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone in recent years, and it is—by far—the largest project submitted under the redevelopment exception applicable to the Save Our Springs Initiative Ordinance. Given the scale of this project and its proximity to Barton Creek, Save Our Springs will be reviewing the project scrupulously with the aim of protecting and enhancing water quality.
We have met with the applicant multiple times and have recently submitted comments to the City of Austin based on the applicant’s Development Assessment.
Because the 30+ acres of existing pavement of the site were built before the adoption of the SOS Ordinance, reducing the amount of impervious cover on site, increasing creek setbacks, and treating the stormwater runoff generated on the site to a non-degradation standard should be a priority for the City and anyone else interested in the health of Barton Creek, Barton Springs, and the Edwards Aquifer. We are pleased to see that the applicant has included these elements in its proposal.
That said, the applicant has requested unprecedented levels of entitlements in South Austin under the City’s Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) zoning process. The PUD process requires that the applicant achieve true superiority, beyond which could be achieved under existing code. Elements of superiority for a project such as this should include community benefits such as long-term stewardship for the Barton Creek greenbelt and trail, on-site water conservation and reuse strategies, and income-restricted housing.
At this point in time, it is way too early for the SOS Alliance to take a formal position. Right now, the applicant has only submitted a development assessment, which is just the first step in a lengthy public input process that will include hearings at the Environmental Commission, Planning Commission, and City Council. Conversations around this project will be part of our community for the next several months, as it advances its way through the public input process.
The SOS Alliance has encouraged the developer to reach out to the neighborhoods most impacted by the project, including the Barton Hills and South Lamar Neighborhood Associations, to get their thoughts. And, as we continue to review this project, the SOS Alliance will be working to coordinate our review and response to the project with those neighborhoods as well.
If you have additional comments you would like us to consider or would like to share your thoughts, please do not hesitate to contact SOS Staff Attorney Bobby Levinski at firstname.lastname@example.org.