Bee Cave: Backyard Music Venue to Be Revamped as Event/Mixed-Use Complex
Featured Illustration (above): Conceptual rendering of The Backyard redeveloped as a mixed-use complex with event venues, office space, food concession and
retail areas, a hotel, and open green space. Image: City of Bee Cave
By Edmond Ortiz
Austin (Travis County)–The new managers of The Backyard, a 35-acre outdoor entertainment complex, plan to add a new event space, hotel and other commercial uses.
The new developments include a 3,700-person event space, office space, a 125-room hotel, a hilltop garden, parking garages, and public recreational amenities.
City Council on May 26 approved amending zoning and development standards for the planned development district, which is now renamed Backyard at Bee Cave.
The new event venue will measure 96,000 square feet of new construction or renovations. This does not include square footage for the new office spaces.
The Backyard originally opened in 1993 as a 3,000-person-capacity live music amphitheater. It is located near Bee Cave Central Park between Bee Cave Parkway, Ranch Road 620, and Texas Highway 71.
The Backyard closed in 2008 and reopened with 7,000-person capacity in 2014, and was again shuttered in 2014.
The new management team, including JPD Backyard Finance LLC, plans to revamp the live music area as an event venue with a food, beverage and retail area, and a multi-purpose lawn with a 500-square-foot performance stage.
Project documents indicate that a brewpub/distillery could be part of the food/retail area.
Backyard representatives have said the new concept will encourage more frequent use by being more suitable for the hosting of private, public and civic events.
Preliminary elevations of a redeveloped live music venue portion of The Backyard complex. Image: Studio Steinbomer
Examples of this versatility include a combination wine bar/retail/office space, and an indoor community event center. The food/beverage/retail areas collectively will make up 70,990 gross square feet of new construction or renovations to existing structures.
Project documents also show two office space areas northwest of Willie Way, a road connecting The Backyard with Texas 71.Each office area will have up to 90,000 gross square feet of office use.
Willie Way will separate the event venue/food/retail section of the Backyard development from the new office buildings. Willie Way is also to become a public road and provide improved connection between The Backyard and Texas 71.
There will be two parking garages built close to the office buildings; one garage will be 360,000 square feet, the other 300,000 square feet.
Employees and visitors with business in The Backyard will be able to use the parking garages in the day during weekdays. At night and during weekends, the garages will be open to visitors to the park.
The envisioned 132,000-square-foot hotel and annex–located in the office area—will have an exhibit hall and meeting space, a spa, pool, business center, and concession and fitness areas.
According to project documents, incidental/accessory uses in the hotel and annex are permitted in up to 15% of the hotel building’s square footage.While there are no details, those potential uses range from bakery, retail, bar and restaurant to museum, dance hall and playground.
There will be satellite parking spaces and ride-sharing opportunities. Some neighboring property owners had expressed concerns about traffic bleeding onto their properties from activities at The Backyard.
Plans also call for detention/amenity ponds near the event venue, a hilltop garden near the hotel with trails, seating areas and other pedestrian amenities, and ensuring the overall project complies with international dark sky community guidelines.
Additionally, there will be trails connecting to the Shops at the Galleria, and a landing pad for a pedestrian bridge across Texas 71.
There is no estimated construction schedule, cost or delivery method for the overall Backyard redevelopment. However, the Backyard management team has said construction will be done in three phases.
Conceptual plan for The Backyard at Bee Cave. Image: The Backyard
Stantec is the project engineer. Austin architecture firm Dick Clark and Associates is working on landscape designs, including the proposed hilltop garden. Another Austin architect, Studio Steinbomer, is redesigning the amphitheater section.
VBX members may track this project using ID number: 2020-4165.
Redevelopment of The Backyard languished for years, mainly due to litigation (now closed) involving the past development team and the city.
Earlier redevelopment plans included residences, data centers and a distributed energy 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.