Austin: Utility District Approved for 2,100-Acre Southeast Travis County Community
Featured Illustration (above): Martin Marietta Materials runs a sand and gravel operation on a 2,122-acre site southeast of downtown Austin where a new mixed-use town center community is proposed for development. Image: Google Streets
By Edmond Ortiz
Austin (Travis County)—Austin Green, a proposed mixed-use project involving 12,000 new residential units, and more than 1.5 million square feet of commercial and industrial space on the Southeast Side, has gotten its first in a series of required approvals from the city.
City Council voted Jan. 23 to approve a consent agreement between the city and a municipal utility district (MUD) to accommodate the Austin Green development on a 2,122-acre tract along either side of Texas Highway 130 from the Colorado River to as far north as Farm Road 969 at one point.
The property is presently an active Martin Marietta Materials sand and gravel operation that lies within Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. It’s anticipated that the council will begin annexation of the newly created utility district this June.
GroundWork, a division of Austin firm Momark Development, is spearheading the massive project. Kimley-Horn & Associates is the project engineer. There’s neither an available estimated project cost, construction delivery method or construction start date.
Documents on file with the city show that Austin Green could include the following:
3,249 urban apartments
4,374 attached residential units
4,377 detached residential units
650,000 square feet of shopping center space
600,000 square feet of office space
150,000 square feet of medical/dental office space
300,000 square feet of light industrial space
708 acres of open space
150 acres of credited parkland
City staff recommended approval of the consent agreement. No council members commented on the matter before casting a unanimous vote of approval.
The developer projects a population of nearly 32,000 people living on the new mixed-use development at a multi-year build-out, the value of which is estimated to be more than $6.6 billion.
The projected total tax rate for the Austin Green Improvement District No. 1 is $3.15 per $100 valuation. Revenues will finance public infrastructure improvements across the property.
The proposed parkland and open space will be connect with the Colorado River, providing various recreational and ecological functions. Additional parks, open space and regional retention along Elm Creek will help in addressing regional floodplain challenges.
Google Earth map highlighting the Austin Green lands.
Preliminary cost estimates indicate the MUD will issue bonds to fund $62.5 million in park amenities in the new development, such as nature trails along the river and around retention ponds, riverside kayak and canoe launches, a shared use path crossing underneath the Texas 130 toll road, and parking at Colorado River Park.
GroundWork submitted a market analysis along with the municipal utility district application. GroundWork representatives stated that Austin Green will tap into the growth potential at the area where Texas Highway 130 and Texas Highway 71 meet. The development will be less than 10 miles from downtown and just northeast of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
GroundWork’s representatives have also said the new development, if realized, will be helpful toward the city’s effort to build up its affordable housing supply.
“The analysis provides local and regional context for future development and states that relative proximity to downtown Austin, affordable land and home values, and less congested highways in eastern Travis County make this an area that will experience strong household growth and an increasing demand for retail and services,” a city staff report stated.
The council expects to consider the first reading of an ordinance establishing a planned unit development by early spring. Members of the MUD board are expected to adopt a strategic partnership agreement with the city by June 12.
GroundWork’s parent company, Momark, is in the pre-planning stages for Uptown, a large-scale mixed-use, master-planned development in Kyle.
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.