Rezoning Case # C14-2014-0157.
At their April 23rd meeting, the Austin City Council approved on a 7-4 vote the third reading of an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 25-2 by rezoning property locally known as 8528-8600 Burnet Road and 8647 Rockwood Lane from general commercial services (CS) district zoning to multi-family residence-highest density-conditional overlay (MF-6-CO) combining district zoning which allows a 5-story, 300-unit apartment complex to be built there. NSCNA had requested MF-4 zoning, which would have permitted a 150-unit complex.
The date construction will begin is not yet known.
In September 2014, the developer, C.J. Sackman of Sackman Enterprises, requested that this property be rezoned from CS (Commercial Services) to MF-6 (Multifamily, Highest Density). This issue came before the NSCNA membership at the Nov. 4, 2014 General Membership Meeting. As described by Mr. Sackman and his attorney, Henry Gilmore, a five-story, 300-unit apartment complex over a 1.5 story underground parking garage containing 340 parking spaces would be constructed at this site.
Although MF-6 permits building heights of 90’, this building would be restricted to 60’, would have an open amenity space of at least 25,000 sq. ft., would generate no more than 2,000 additional vehicle trips/day, and 15% of the units would be reserved for SMART or affordable housing for 5 years.
After expressing concern about the additional traffic and high density of the project (107.5 units/acre), membership voted to oppose MF-6 zoning. Subsequently, after discussions between the Development Committee and District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, the NSCNA Board voted to oppose MF-6 zoning but to counteroffer MF-4 (Multifamily, Moderate Density) which has a height limit of 60’ and a density limit of 54 units/acre. MF-4 zoning would allow approximately 150 apartment units to be constructed.
The case was scheduled to be heard by the Planning Commission on Dec. 9 but was rescheduled for January 13, 2015. At the January hearing, the Planning Commission approved the project with the following conditions:
1) 15% of the units reserved for SMART Housing for 10 years
2) Building size be limited to 250,000 sq. ft.
3) Height be limited to 60’
4) Number of units be limited to 300
The case was originally scheduled for a public hearing before City Council on January 29, 2015 but rescheduled for February 12, 2015. At the February 12 meeting, Council voted to approve on second reading only downsizing the project to 225 units, building size of 244,000 sq. ft., and a floor-to-area ratio (FAR) of 2:1.
Second reading was scheduled for April 16. At that meeting, Council Member Pool made a motion to change zoning from MF-6 to the next lower level of multifamily zoning, MF-5. That proposal was defeated. A proposal by Council Member Zimmerman to pass MF-6 zoning on both second and third reading was also defeated. Instead, Council voted to retain the 225 unit,
2:1 FAR limitations and, in order to give both NSCNA and the developer a final opportunity to find a compromise, set the third and final reading for April 23rd.
At the April 23rd reading, the developer offered a written agreement to commit to 15% SMART housing (or 45 of 300 units), in the following mix of sizes: twenty studio apartments; fifteen 1- bedroom; seven 2-bedroom; and three 3-bedroom units. Council Member Casar made a motion to raise the number of units from 225 back to the original 300. Council Member Pool made a motion to change the zoning from CS to CS-V which would require 15% affordable housing at 60% rather than 80% Median Family Income, with commercial on the first floor and approximately 225 residential units above. Her motion was supported by Mayor Adler and Council Members Houston, Kitchens, and Tovo but failed 6-5.
Council then proceeded to vote on Council Member Casar’s motion to increase the number of units back to 300, which passed 7-4. Council members Houston, Kitchens, Pool, and Tovo voted against the MF-6 zoning.
The Austin Monitor also has an article titled “Burnet Road Tract Gets New Zoning” which you can read at this link: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/whispers/
Sharon Justice, Chair