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Long-awaited Pilot Knob PUD Gets Through Austin Planning


Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

by Adolfo Pesquera

Austin (Travis Co.) – Pilot Knob, one of the largest planned unit developments to appear in Travis County in years, was approved unanimously by the Austin Planning Commission.

Planning department staff case manager Wendy Rhoades described the scale of the project at the Sept. 22 meeting as a 2,214-acre PUD wherein developers propose to build 14,300 residential units, of which about 800 would be multifamily structures and 4,500 would be single family residences.

Pilot Knob is a mixed use development that would also include about 750,000 square feet of employment uses, 4.6 million square feet of civic and commercial uses, up to 400 acres of park space, sites for two Del Valle Independent School District schools, one 2-acre tract for a fire/EMS station near Slaughter Lane and FM 1625, and a 10-acre site for an intermodal transit station. There would also be an amphitheater.

Estimated prices for the single family homes would fall in the range of $180,000 to $400,000.

Rhoades noted that the Pilot Knob PUD application had been under review since 2012 and has been extensively negotiated. It was also reviewed by the city Environmental Board, which gave their approval Aug. 19. Planning staff was also recommending approval, with conditions.

Pilot Knob is bounded by McKinney Fallas Parkway on the west, Colton-Bluff Springs Road to its north, US Highway 183 and FM 1625 Road on the east and Wende Road on the south. It also has limited frontage with Thaxton Road on the southwest.

The land use plan describes four general land use areas:

  • The 200-acre Town Center area, which is a mix of residential/commercial, including a hotel/civic center, all bounded by Colton Bluff Springs Road, US 183, the Slaughter Lane extension and FM 1625.
  • The Mixed Residential 1 area, located north of Slaughter Lane. Its area totals 1,400 acres and it would be populated with single family, multifamily, neighborhood-serving commercial and civic uses.
  • Two Employment Center areas, about 45 acres each, oriented toward FM 1625. Uses would include civic, residential, commercial, including the hotel, and light industrial.
  • The 360-acre Open Space area includes greenways, trails, parks and recreation areas with civic and limited commercial uses, interspersed throughout.
PUDs are defined by two tiers of development requirements, the first tier being mandatory. Rhoades said Pilot Knob meets all Tier I requirements and six of the 13 Tier II requirements. There were 48 modifications requested, a number Rhoades acknowledged was large, “however, it is a large site and is in the limited purpose jurisdiction, and county had maintenance of there roads here.”
Rhoades told commissioners the developer agreed to comply with the city’s green build standards. “They are achieving a 2-Star rating or better under our green build program.”
Pilot Knob will also make 10 percent of its residential units available as “affordable housing.” When asked what that was in hard numbers, a spokesman for the developer said this amounted to between 650 and 1,000 single family homes and 350 or more units in the multifamily developments.
Affordable housing was defined as 80 percent of median family income at the initial offer of sale, 60 percent of median family income for rentals. The developer would also make a financial contribution to the city’s affordable housing program equal to 2 percent of the total “hard” construction cost reimbursements received by the developer out of the proceeds of the PUD bonds, up to a maximum of $8 million.
The applicant/agent for Pilot Knob is Jana McCann of Austin-based McCann Adams Studio. The name Pilot Knob is a reference to the eroded core of an extinct volcano located 8 miles south of central Austin.
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adolfo@virtualbx.com

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About the Author:

Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.

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