Leander: New Budget Includes Bond for Northline Development
Northline mixed-use development is to include multi-family, retail, restaurant and office space along with a potential Leander city town square. Image: City of Leander/Northline Leander Development LLC
By Edmond Ortiz
Leander (Williamson County)–The fiscal year 2020 budget that the city of Leander will adopt this month contains a nearly $15 million bond to fund the construction of public improvements associated with Northline, a major private/public partnership that will at last give Leander a downtown.
Northline is the biggest downtown project planned in Leander’s transit-oriented development district. City officials announced plans for Phase I of Northline in June 2019.
Northline is to be a walkable town center with a blend of retail, housing, at least one hotel, movie theater, offices, restaurants and civic space across 115 acres. It’s located south of San Gabriel Parkway between U.S. 183 and 183A Toll Road.
The project is led by Alex Tynberg and Northline Leander Development Co. LLC. Tynberg’s firm, Tynberg LLC, has developed or redeveloped various multifamily developments in the Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth areas.
Northline would be a significant leap forward for Leander. Despite being part of one of the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas, Leander has not seen the same level of commercial development present in neighboring Austin suburbs such as Round Rock, Cedar Park and Georgetown.
The city and the developer estimate a 10- to 15-year build out for Northline, and that a fully developed Leander downtown could be valued at $800 million.
Northline master-planned, mixed-use community is proposed for location in Leander’s north side. Image: David M. Schwarz Architects
Preliminary plans show Northline unfolding in phases, ultimately accommodating more than 2,500 apartments and townhomes, more than 120,000 square feet of retail space, and 360,000 square feet of office space.
Washington, D.C.-based David M. Schwarz Architects is the lead land planner and designer for the mixed-use project. The Schwarz firm’s work in master planning includes the 3,500-acre Lake Las Vegas resort east of Las Vegas, and the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
They also have overseen the formation of urban master plans in numerous Texas cities, including downtown Fort Worth, Frisco Square, Southlake’s Town Square, and the River Walk at Central Park in Flower Mound.
According a press release issued by the city in June, the first phase of Northline will involve 1.3 acres of urban civic space called Leander Town Square. Details on what that space could entail have yet to be worked out.
Some local officials have informally discussed the idea of building a city/community facility or space at the future town square.
“Leander Town Square will be the focal point of our new downtown,” Mayor Troy Hill said in the release. “This space could serve as the destination for a new city hall or other public function that could spur all kinds of new investment in our city.”
Tynberg and his team have been concentrating on designs for infrastructure, such as streets and utilities, for Northline. Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. will oversee planning, marketing and vertical commercial development in Northline.
“Northline is making tremendous progress with Lincoln Property Co. now leading our commercial development efforts,” Tynberg said in the June city press release. “Securing Lincoln’s depth of expertise provides a significant boost to the Northline project and will accelerate our overall development timeline.”
The project’s backers have said Northline’s site and Leander’s residential growth bode much potential for the master planned development. It is located near a Capital Metro Red Line rail station, Austin Community College’s San Gabriel campus, and St. David’s Emergency Center.
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.