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Cedar Park: City Picks Master Developer to Revive Bell Boulevard District

Featured Illustration (above): A rendering of open/civic space in the planned Bell Boulevard District redevelopment. Image: RedLeaf Properties

Posted: 3-3-20

By Edmond Ortiz

Cedar Park (Williamson County)–A master developer has been chosen to a redevelop 50 city-owned acres that could provide hundreds of housing units, over 100,000 square feet of office space, new retail and a library.

City Council on Feb. 27 voted unanimously to approve a 20-year agreement with Austin company RedLeaf Properties LLC in the effort to revitalize the Bell Boulevard District between Buttercup Creek Boulevard/Brushy Creek Road and Park Street. Bell Boulevard is also U.S. 183, the city’s main north-south  corridor.

Preliminary work has just launched ahead of a reconfiguration of part of Bell Boulevard, which will accommodate new streets and mixed-use redevelopment. Image: RedLeaf Properties

It took a year of negotiations to finalize the pact. Cedar Park officials say Bell District could have a $350 million total investment at build-out, and that nearly 90% of the development will be funded with private money.

“The Bell District will be uniquely Cedar Park and unlike any place in the city today,” RedLeaf Partner Rob Shands said in a news release.

“Our team is committed to transforming this area into a special place that captures the spirit of the community’s vision and becomes the new heart of Cedar Park.”

Public improvements will be funded with money mainly from the Community Development Type B Sales Tax Corp.

Local leaders describe Bell District as a vibrant, walkable, urban destination with high-density residential, some with ground-floor retail, restaurants, professional office space, individually-owned brownstones, a park, new civic spaces and 16 acres of greenspace.

“The Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project has been a top priority of our city councils, staff, and boards for five consecutive years, because this is literally the only area of our booming city that’s in financial decline,” Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale said in a press release.

“Today, we officially changed that by partnering with RedLeaf—a visionary, high-caliber developer with a proven track record on complex public-private partnerships in our region.”

Van Arsdale continued: “No project in our city’s history has received this much public input and attention from our councils, boards and staff. The Bell District will reflect our community’s shared vision of an attractive destination for generations, and completely reverse the financial trend for that area.”

There are no tax abatements associated with this redevelopment effort. A master plan for the defined area, adopted by the city in 2015, will guide redevelopment.

According to the news release, the city must first finish realigning a part of Bell Boulevard/U.S. 183 before work associated with the redevelopment can begin.

The red outlines the designated mixed-use redevelopment area along Bell Boulevard/U.S. 183, looking north. Image: RedLeaf Properties

Utility relocation on Bell Boulevard started in January; the realignment itself is scheduled to begin this summer and continue through 2021.

Upon completion of the street alignment, RedLeaf will initiate demolition of existing structures to accommodate new roads and utility infrastructure.

Phase I of redevelopment will include planning of greenspace associated with the proposed public library and restaurants, which collectively will “create a family-friendly social hub and gathering space for community events such as farmers markets, performances and small festivals,” according to the project design guidelines.

Phase I work will also include public park development, two blocks of high-density residential structures with ground-floor retail, and two parking garages.

Phase II will involve more commercial, office and residential development, including urban brownstones.

Overall, redevelopment will unfold across the acreage from south to north. VBX members may track this overall project using ID number: 2020-1CEC.

RedLeaf is responsible for redeveloping Highland Mall, with Austin Community College as a project partner.

Prior to forming RedLeaf, Principal/Founder Matt Whelan led the development of the $2 billion Mueller community.

According to RedLeaf, redevelopments such as Plaza Saltillo in Austin and Pearl in San Antonio serve as inspiration for RedLeaf’s project in Cedar Park.

A rendering of some of the retail and commercial space envisioned for the Bell Boulevard redevelopment. Image: RedLeaf Properties


edmond@virtualbx.com

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By |2020-03-03T13:26:12-06:00March 3rd, 2020|Construction Preview, Feature Story|

About the Author:

Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.

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