Last Wednesday, the Environment Committee resumed a conversation about the development of the planned Brodie Oaks unit which began back in march.
The PUD, which would encompass a 37.6-acre parcel of land on the corner of South Lamar Boulevard and South Capital of Texas Highway, must exceed certain environmental standards in order to secure the commission’s recommendation before moving on to city council. Liz Johnston, Assistant Environmental Officer, Watershed Protection Department, briefed the Commissioners on the ongoing review process.
The vision for Brodie Oaks involves the conversion of the existing shopping center into a mixed-use site of residences, restaurants, offices and hotels linked by walking trails and parks. The billion-dollar development deal would be the largest undertaking in the Barton Creek area and would require changing many of the property’s existing zoning bylaws.
Among those zoning requirements are height restrictions of 60 feet, which the tallest structures in the development would more than quadruple. Brodie Oaks would also be in violation of the Hill Country Road Ordinance, which requires the maintenance of natural landscapes around the Capital of Texas Highway.
In return for these considerations, development must meet a level of environmental superiority determined by the city. A central criterion is water quality, as the Brodie Oaks development borders the Barton Creek Greenbelt. In an effort to protect this sensitive stream system, Watershed Protection closely monitored the project’s planned drainage and irrigation infrastructure to ensure it meets the area’s non-degradation standards.
Right now, one of Brodie Oaks’ most important environmental assets is their plan to reduce the area’s waterproof cover from 84 to 53 percent by replacing large swathes of paved areas with green space. This is especially important given its location adjacent to the Barton Creek watershed and Edwards Aquifer recharge areas, as the uptake of sufficient clean water is critical to maintaining the health of this resource. major.
While this improvement has been hailed by organizations like the Save Our Springs Alliance, PUD needs to go beyond more than one title. Commissioner Audrey Barrett Bixler expressed concerns about the energy sustainability of the project, noting that the development only meets level 2 of Austin Energy’s rating system. Among other changes, Barrett Bixler asked developers to improve these ratings before the commission granted its recommendation.
Another challenge is the location of the development atop Airman’s Cave, which the city has sought to preserve since its discovery in 1971. To protect the structural integrity of both the development site and the cave, Brodie Oaks will need to respect the limitations on excavation within a certain underground radius determined by a team of hydrogeologists.
Now that the PUD application has been initially examined, the developer will need to submit comments refining the plans to better meet superiority standards. This will involve many more months of work with the Environment Commission as well as conversations with neighborhoods and local organizations like the Save Our Springs Alliance.
“We appreciate (Brodie Oaks) ‘s focus on the environment and look forward to continuing to work with them… (but) recognize that this is the first major development project that could be an example for other sites in the future, such as the Barton Creek Mall and Target Mall across the street, ”SOS Alliance attorney Bobby Levinski said at the commission’s first briefing in March .
With such a precedent at stake, all parties agree that there is still a lot of work to be done. When a finalized request finally arrives, it will be up to the commission to make a recommendation before the PUD moves on to the appropriate land use planning commission and city council.
Rendered by Lionheart Overland via City of Austin.
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