SOS Reaches Agreement with Stratus Properties over New Project, Protecting Land in the Barton Springs Zone
Stratus Properties (“Stratus”) owns some of the largest areas of land within the Barton Springs Zone. They own land all throughout Southwest Austin, including the site of the notorious 4,000-acre Barton Creek PUD, which was the catalyst of the SOS movement 30 years ago, when more than 800 Austin residents rallied to protect Barton Springs from overdevelopment. Oftentimes, the inherent conflict between developer profits and our mission to protect the water quality of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer puts SOS at odds with developers, like Stratus. But, this is not one of those days.
SOS is pleased to share the news that we have reached an agreement with Stratus that will help protect approximately 10 acres of land from commercial development and will reduce the total amount of impervious cover (i.e., pavement) that can be built in the immediate area surrounding the new apartment complex by 6.9 acres.
The development in question is the last phase of a five-phase development at the southwest corner of William Cannon and Southwest Parkway (7415 Southwest Parkway) in the area known as Lantana. In exchange for being able to convert their approved office project to multi-family housing, Stratus has agreed to reduce the overall imperious cover of their planned project to 25% net site area (from 60% NSA), by dedicating additional developable lands towards land conservation immediately to the project’s south. This would be functionally equivalent to the limits required under the SOS Ordinance.
While this is certainly not an ideal scenario, and we would of course prefer full compliance with all existing environmental regulations, the unique circumstances surrounding this site, including an approved site plan for an office development, make it much more likely that the developer would proceed with construction of the approved office park than leave the land undeveloped. Under such a scenario, we protect no additional lands, get no parkland dedication, and end up with more impervious cover.
SOS would like to thank Stratus for working with us on mitigating the environmental impacts of their planned development, by dedicating additional lands towards conservation purposes, beyond even what was recommended by the initial City of Austin recommendation.
That said, there is still much more work to do. Every year, SOS is notified about dozens of new developments attempting to take advantage of outdated environmental regulations and skirt the will of Austin’s voters by trying to exempt themselves from compliance with the SOS Ordinance.
The SOS Alliance was formed to be the watchdog protecting Austin’s groundwater, creeks and springs. Seeking compliance with Austin’s environmental regulations is a big part of that, and we will continue to pressure developers (and the City) to protect our limited resources.