Controversial ‘Grove’ development moves forward at council

The Grove at Shoal Creek rendering (The Grove Photo)
The Grove at Shoal Creek rendering (The Grove Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council Thursday voted to keep the ball rolling for a controversial development in central Austin.

The Grove at Shoal Creek would be located on 75 acres of former state owned land at the corner of 45th and Bull Creek Road. The developer, ARG, have been asking city council to zone the property as a planned unit development or PUD. That would allow them to build homes, office and retail space as well as require affordable housing in the mix. Neighbors have said the development would cause significant traffic problems along their single lane roads.

Council member Leslie Pool recently called on the developers to change their plans and reduce their office and retail space to eliminate some of the traffic, increase the parkland, and build additional streets in the development.

The attorney for the developer wrote a letter to council saying that would reduce the scope of the project.

“And that would also greatly increase the costs of the project by a very great amount and those two things affect the viability of the project as a planned unit development,” said Jeff Howard, Attorney for ARG.

As a result the developer said they could switch their request of zoning to conventional – which essentially means they would only build homes and no affordable housing is required.

Grayson Cox, the Vice President of the neighborhood group called Bull Creek Road Coalition responded in a letter to city council stating in part, “At one of the very first public meetings in April 2015 and at nearly every meeting in the past 18 months, Garrett Martin (who is the development manager) threatens neighbors with building 300 MileStone spec houses on the property, and now he’s threatening you – Austin’s elected City Council….. We hope that City staff can dispel the myth from ARG that conventional zoning is somehow remotely close to the economic desirability of the PUD.”

After discussing the item for an hour, the council decided to pass the first of three readings of the zoning request. Thursday’s vote drew a smaller crowd since it is more of symbolic vote, letting developers know they want them to stay with their current zoning request so the city doesn’t lose the prospect of more affordable housing.  But at the same time Austin Mayor Steve Adler believes there are several questions concerning the development that needs to be worked out.

A second reading of the item is scheduled for Nov. 10. Developers hope to have final approval next month.

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