The Village Shopping Center is the area that includes the Alamo Draft House, Obee’s, Fuddruckers, etc. It was purchased last September and the new owners, the Lamy Group, intend to take the existing 147,000 sq. ft. and expand it to 645,000 sq. ft. of residential, retail and office space. In order to accomplish the increase in density for this development, they are asking for a zoning change from GR to GR-VMU (Vertical Mixed Use). To see the City case information for this Zoning change, go to this site and search by Case Number using: C14-2007-0207
In theory, VMU allows for increased density and a mixture of residential, retail and commercial to encourage a more efficient use of the property. It should also encourage people to play, shop, and work closer to home, and to use public transportation more frequently. In exchange for relaxed standards of setback, height, and parking, etc., the City requires that 10% of the residential units be set aside as “affordable housing.” The affordable units are funded by HUD and administered through the Austin Housing Authority. For more details about VMU, see the City of Austin website.
The Lamy Group is first asking for the zoning change. They have a concept drawing, which may or may not be the final layout of the development, but they must first request the Planning Commission to grant VMU for this site. Before the zoning request, the neighborhood planning groups met with the developer to allow for comment and an exchange of ideas. NSCNA has had two such meetings to date. If the zoning change is approved, the next step for the developers will be to submit their actual site plan for approval. The plan eventually makes its way to City Council for approval.
The Lamy group has indicated a time line for this development that could span 10 or more years. According to their concept now, they have leases in the Village that extend 7 years or more. We know they have had talks with the Alamo Draft House (ADH) to make them the anchor tenant, ultimately building a new 6 screen theater and a parking garage. They will need to accommodate ADH in making the transition by leaving the old theatre up until the new one is built.
Secondly, the largest part of the development would be 430 apartments with an attached parking garage. The apartments would be four stories but the setback from the fence line would be staggered. For example, the first 25′ would be two stories. The next 25′ back from the residential fence line would be 3 stories, and 25′ back from that, four stories. One of two parking garages would be built where the old ADH is located. Again, each parking level staggered back from the fence line.
The developers are aware of neighborhood concerns about tenants overlooking from above into Ashdale residents backyards and sliding glass doors. The developers have also been made aware of parking garage noise and lights from exiting patrons of the theater late at night. Dumpsters were discussed as no one wants to hear banging at 3 in the morning.
For the zoning change, a traffic impact study does not have to be submitted but, according to the Planning Commission, they will be required to do a TIA for Anderson Lane and possibly the Burnet/Anderson intersection when the site plan is submitted at a later date. The developers have pointed out that residential traffic does not have the same impact as, for example, a McDonalds due to residents coming and going to work. The theatre traffic would mostly be as it is now, releasing customers during the evening hours. The developers foresee new retail, including the types of businesses that would cater to after- hours crowds, such as an Amy’s Ice Cream. The development is also expected to include a 27,000 sq. ft. gym close to Anderson Lane, but it is not known at this time if Body Business will want to remain at this location. Other tenants will hopefully be a mixture of retail and office space.
Other neighborhood concerns have been voiced about the potential loss of locally owned businesses. Some research was done that uncovered a wealth of services available through the city to provide marketing, lending, capital, business plan support to small local businesses. In addition, the City has a contract with a company to provide other support services. Please see www.ibuyaustin.com. A new IBIZ district has been established for Anderson Lane and another one for Burnet Rd. There are no special services for relocating local businesses from redeveloped property, but it is hoped that each business will seek out support from the City in making the transition through this period of change for the Village. The loss of cheap rent for these businesses will be the biggest impact. You can show your support for the businesses that you love to frequent by talking with the owners and managers and expressing your encouragement for them to stay in the area.
If anyone has any other concerns, please email development [at] nscna [dot] org.