More than 150 Cedar Park residents took part in the city’s “Heart of Bell Boulevard” community workshop Nov. 14, where city staff provided an update on plans for the roadway and the proposed 52 acre mixed-use development.
City staff said the project is still in the planning and design phases, but eventually the goal is to have a distinct, walkable destination district between Park Street and Buttercup Creek that would include a mix of retail, dining, parks, residential and businesses by 2022.
Throughout the workshop and presentations, staff collected feedback through several interactive displays for input on defining the character of the district. Residents were asked to place positive or negative stickers on the designs they preferred.
“Your feedback will help us as we start to articulate these design principles as we work toward development,” said Rebecca Leonard, project consultant. “We want to hear your critique as well as your ideas.”
Gloria Chambers, who has lived near Bell Boulevard since 1994, had concerns about the development.
“We’re worried a lot about the noise and the traffic,” she said. “The traffic is going to be horrendous for us because it’s so close.”
Part of the inspiration for the redevelopment project stems from the low sales tax gains trend in the area, said Mayor Matt Powell.
Some business owners in attendance also had concerns about what redevelopment will mean for their businesses.
“When you’re a small business like us, it’s tough to be in an expanded area because of the rent,” said Udo Dussling, owner of Hang Ups. “It’s a hard scenario. Where do we go? Why should we be ousted for the tragedy of the current development?”
Ultimately, the fate of the businesses will be in the hands of their property owners, said Katherine Caffery, asst. city manager.
“It’s about improving the business community in the core of town,” she said. “This is our best way to improve things in this area.”
The next meetings for the Bell Boulevard project are slated to take place in early 2018. They will be focused on the road design and realignment segment of the project and will focus solely on what that will mean for the neighboring communities.
Redevelopment will be funded through the a public-private investor partnership, the city’s general fund, the voter-approved 2015 general obligation bonds and the community development sales tax fund.
For more information about the project, visit www.destinationbellblvd.cedarparktexas.gov.