Hed: Leander Springs development takes a step forward
Subhead: Council passes PUD, asks developer to return with more details on project
A proposal for a mixed-use development that would feature multi-story apartments, a park and water feature, designed to bring an entertainment district to the Leander, moved further toward reality after the city council approved a Planned Unit Development (PUD) required for the project at its July 29 regular meeting.
More than 20 residents took the microphone at the meeting to speak either in support of, or against, the development.
“We are here tonight to request approval of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to establish the base zoning districts,” began Mike Neary of Dimension Capital Partners, the company seeking to develop the property located on the southwest corner of RM 2243 and 183A. “Leander Springs is a entertainment focused mixed-use project planned around a central water feature that will serve as a community amenity surrounded by residential, restaurant, retail, hotel and office uses.”
Neary said his company has been in business for 40 years and has successfully completed a number of Central Texas projects including The Ranch at Brushy Creek and The Colony in Bastrop.
However, many concerns about Leander Springs stemmed from what citizens and council members described as somewhat vague details about the specifics of the development plans.
“The concerns I have are that there’s not any real details as to what the actual plans are,” said Leander resident Bryan Sultanik, whose home is just south of the planned development site. “The buildings would be up to six stories in height so I would have an issue of privacy. With the influx of additional apartments, the area would become very saturated.”
Greg Brown, who also lives near the proposed Leander Springs site, said he isn’t against business coming into Leander but is against the addition of apartments in the area.
“The biggest problem I have is the size of the apartment complex that will be four, five or even six stories in height,” said Brown. “I’m not opposed to the project, I like commercial and it would be nice to have restaurants and retail… I’m just concerned that the developers are more interested in the building of apartments there. I want something that helps Leander.”
Laura Aldred, whose Crystal Falls home is several miles away from the proposed development, spoke in favor of Leander Springs.
“I’m all for it. I think Leander needs something that’ll let people enjoy entertainment instead of going to Cedar Park or Austin,” said Aldred. “I hope the council decides to go forward with it and approve it… This meeting was eye-opening because the whole neighborhood came out and you got to see what’s going on in the community.”
The council passed the PUD and approved a second reading of the proposal with a 5-1 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Michele Stephenson was absent and Council Member Shanan Shepherd voted against the proposal.
“My number one heartburn with this whole project is that when the applicant first brought this concept to us, there was tremendous detail and it was great and I was excited about it,” said Shepherd. “I thought it would be a great thing for our city, but what has been presented is so disconnected from that and so vague that I feel like it’s a little disingenuous… I would like to see this come back with tremendously more detail so that we know exactly what we’re looking at and these neighbors know exactly what would be going next to them.”
While the PUD for the project passed, plans for the project itself must still be approved. The developer is expected to return to the city council with more detailed plans in August. Council members directed the developer to return with renderings of multi-family buildings and incorporate several restrictions into the plans.
Notably, the council requested the developer limit apartments along the southern border near Brown’s and Sultanik’s neighborhood to just three stories in height, addressing some of the concerns of nearby residents.