March 21: Community Conversation on The Grove's Public Parks Master Plan

COMMUNITY INPUT MEETING #1
March 21, 2017, 7:00-8:30 PM
Bryker Woods Elementary, 3309 Kerbey Lane

The Public Parks Master Plan (PPMP) for The Grove at Shoal Creek is being developed collaboratively with the property owner and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD).  The PPMP includes a 16.25-acre Signature Park and a Pocket Park.  

Community input is vital to the process, and there will be several opportunities scheduled to encourage participation. The new facilities must be in compliance with the City Parkland Improvement and Operations Agreement for The Grove at Shoal Creek Planned Unit Development (PUD).
 
There will be three (3) community meetings held to solicit input about the goals and programming priorities for the public parks.

Discussions will include a vision plan and design alternatives for the parks, and the resulting Public Parks Master Plan. Once approved by the PARD Director, the PPMP will guide both the initial park improvements constructed by the developer of The Grove at Shoal Creek and any future capital improvements to the parks.
 
Project Background
The Grove at Shoal Creek is an approximately 76-acre Planned Unit Development (PUD) located Southeast of the corner of Bull Creek Road and West 45th Street.  The project will consist of a mix of residential housing types that includes: affordable housing, a mixed-use district with retail and office space, and over 20 acres of publicly accessible open space. The PUD Zoning for the project, approved by City Council on December 15, 2016, requires the dedication of almost 19 acres of public parks. The PPMP for The Grove at Shoal Creek will guide the development and maintenance of those public parks. The 1-page Parks Plan Exhibit, which is part of that ordinance and describes the specific requirements for parks at The Grove at Shoal Creek, can be found here. Additional detail regarding plans for the overall development can be found on this website: www.thegroveatshoalcreek.com.

For more information regarding the Public Parks Master Plan, visit www.austintexas.gov/parksatthegrove, or contact Park Development Coordinator, Charles Mabry at 512-974-9481 or charles.mabry@austintexas.gov.

We Did It, Together!

On December 15, 2016, the Austin City Council voted 10-1 to approve The Grove and allow this amazing project to finally move forward after two years of hard work.
 
We sincerely thank all of our many supporters who helped make this incredible achievement possible.
 
The thousands of emails you wrote mattered. Every hour of personal time sacrificed to attend a long and often late meeting at City Hall made a difference. You demonstrated that there is strong community support for a different kind of development that truly addresses Austin’s urgent need for more housing, greater equity and improved mobility.
 
We appreciate the hard work and support of the Austin City Council, commission members, and all of the professional staff at the City of Austin who worked on The Grove over the past two years. 
 
We also thank members of the Bull Creek Road Coalition for working with us to reach a landmark agreement that allowed both sides and ultimately the Austin City Council to reach consensus in support of The Grove.

We thank Westminster residents and the Friends of the Grove for their support of the vision and plan and their encouragement throughout the process.
 
The Grove's approval is a major milestone, but it’s really just the beginning of the journey.
 
Now, we start work on the plans to make the vision of The Grove a reality.
 
We'll have more announcements and details in the days to come. 
 
Thank you and Happy Holidays to all. 

Announcement of Agreement Regarding The Grove Planned Unit Development

ARG Bull Creek, Ltd. (ARG) is pleased to announce that after a 2-year, very public community engagement and discussion process, it has reached agreement with the Bull Creek Road Coalition (BCRC) over the BCRC’s concerns with The Grove at Shoal Creek project.

BCRC is a coalition of neighborhoods representing Highland Park West/ Balcones Area, Allandale, Rosedale, Bryker Woods, Oakmont Heights, Ridgelea and neighbors adjacent to the project on 45th Street and Idlewild. We are grateful to the BCRC Board for their hard work, diligence and cooperation in what has been a long and arduous process. We are also appreciative of the leadership of City Council, The Mayor, Council Member Gallo, and Council Member Pool in encouraging the parties to continue to work together.

While adoption of the terms of the agreement is subject to City Council consideration, the agreement includes substantial, difficult compromises by both parties and we are hopeful that the City will fully embrace the agreement. The Grove at Shoal at Creek will come before the City Council for consideration again on December 6, 2016.

During these past 2 years, we have participated in countless public and neighborhood meetings and held countless hours of discussions. ARG has listened to and incorporated the priorities of outstanding community organizations such as Westminster and Friends of the Grove. ARG has also worked very hard to earn the recommendation of the project by City staff and the Austin Zoning and Platting Commission (an official City planning board made up of citizens representing all City districts). We are proud that the City Council also adopted the vision of the project by passing the zoning request on first reading while additional discussions could be had. We are now very pleased to add to this long list of support, the agreement we have reached with the BCRC.

The agreement includes changes to the proposed PUD zoning recommended by staff and the Zoning and Platting Commission that were difficult for ARG to accept, but we believe it preserves the vision, vibrancy and viability of the project.

The main highlights of the agreement between the BCRC and ARG are listed below. ARG will be working with BCRC, City staff, and Council offices to work through the details of the agreement, make a good faith effort to receive its ultimate approval from the City on December 15th of this year, and ensure the objectives of the agreement are properly incorporated and executed in the PUD zoning ordinance language.

ENTITLEMENTS AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

  • Retention of the 1,515 residential unit entitlement with a 25% increase in the number of on-site affordable for-sale and rental units and support for alternative City funding in place of impact fee waivers to help in providing that additional affordable housing. The 650 apartment unit cap will be removed to promote these increases.
  • A reduction of 25,000 square feet in office and 10,000 square feet in retail entitlements for a new cap of 185,000 square feet of office and 140,000 square feet of retail. The single retail tenant cap is reduced to 35,000 square feet and the allowable cocktail lounge (bar) entitlements are reduced by 33% to 10,000 square feet maximum.
  • Greater restrictions on development within 75 feet of Bull Creek Road adjacent to the Oakmont Heights neighborhood including a 25 feet setback, maximum 35 feet height, two attached units maximum, and other associated development standards.

TRAFFIC AND SAFETY

  • The Jackson Avenue connection to 45th Street through two existing homes is eliminated.
  • An approximately 1,000 trip reduction in the total unadjusted trip cap.
  • A total of approximately $1.3 million in neighborhood traffic mitigation and safety improvements including sidewalks, traffic circles, speed tables, and enhanced crosswalks for Shoalmont, Oakmont Heights, Ridgelea, Highland Park West, and adjacent areas funded through cost-sharing between ARG and the City and constructed at cost by ARG. The exact scope of the improvements will be determined after feasibility analysis and consultation with the City.

DRAINAGE

  • An independent technical review of The Grove's drainage system will be completed by an engineer selected by mutual agreement of the Ridgelea Neighborhood Association and ARG to certify no adverse drainage impact to downstream properties.
  • A 10 foot drainage easement will be reserved along the shared property line between The Grove and Idlewild.
  • ARG places $50,000 in escrow for a Ridgelea Neighborhood Association escrow fund if needed for future claims related to drainage from The Grove.

PARKLAND AND NOISE

  • Total credited parkland increases to 14.48 acres.
  • A PARD-approved parkland management agreement that includes a management committee with two neighborhood representatives (1 resident in surrounding neighborhoods and 1 resident in the future Grove neighborhood) and provisions related to amendments of the annual programming plan.
  • Outdoor amplified noise cut-off at 9 PM Su-Th, 9:30 F-Sat, for commercial and parkland uses in the PUD.

CapMetro Proposes A Bus Line Through The Grove

In its new Connections 2025 Plan, Austin's Capital Metro is proposing new bus routes and other changes to better serve the people of Austin.

In recognition of the transit-supportive nature of the Grove, CapMetro's latest plan envisions the creation of a new bus line — the 345 route — that would run along 45th Street and loop through The Grove. 

This is great news!

We hope you'll also welcome this great news and recognize the opportunity that a new 345 route offers to make getting to-and-from The Grove more efficient while greatly reducing vehicular traffic. 

Watch CapMetro's video to learn more about their Connections 2025 Plan. 

Watch this Video: A Closer Look at The Grove's Traffic Solutions

Because there's some inaccurate information floating around about The Grove and traffic, it's important to know the facts. 

Please watch this brief video and learn more about The Grove's plans to fund and build $9 million in infrastructure improvements, which will fully mitigate traffic and relieve congestion at the intersection of 45th and Bull Creek Road.

You'll also see why The Grove will not generate "19,000 cars" a day, as some have previously claimed.

The Grove Can ONLY Move Forward If It Makes Economic Sense

As you may have heard, Austin City Council approved The Grove on first reading yesterday. There is still a lot of work to do! A 2nd and 3rd reading is still required to gain final approval. 

For nearly 2 years, we have been working with the community, city staff, and city council on the project, and we look forward to continuing to seek approval of The Grove. (Please urge City Council to approve The Grove. Send them an email today at: www.thegroveatshoalcreek.com/yes)

Mayor Adler and his fellow Council Members who voted with him recognize an important point: Everyone wants a Planned Unit Development (PUD) approved for The Grove. With a PUD, the city gets a new, large park, affordable housing, environmental protections, infrastructure improvements and other things that it would not get without a PUD. 

But we must strongly reiterate that The Grove can ONLY move forward as a PUD if it makes economic sense to do so.  

Accordingly, we still have serious concerns with some of the amendments offered by Council Member Leslie Pool that would shrink the project too much or add-on new costs. If the Pool amendments are passed, ARG would be forced to cease pursuit of PUD zoning. We would no longer be able to offer the community benefits that everyone wants. We would be forced to pursue conventional zoning. 

Conventional zoning would result in far fewer transportation improvements, similar or worse peak hour congestion, less parkland, and a less walkable, sustainable and vibrant project. No one wants that. 

ARG would very much like to build the project that was painstakingly compiled through years of discussion with the community and through the effort of world renowned architects. So we remain willing and committed to collaboration and discussion in an effort to find agreement with all parties. 

One final important point: For every day the case has been delayed, the cost of the housing goes up because of the carrying costs of the dormant project and the expense of the zoning. These additional and avoidable expenses add up with each delay and only exacerbate the housing crisis that Austin is currently experiencing.  

Let’s not delay The Grove any longer. Send your email to City Council today: www.thegroveatshoalcreek.com/yes

We're headed back to City Council on October 20.

On Oct. 20, The Grove will return to City Council. However, we are not asking our supporters to come with us to City Hall. 

Here’s what is going on. Yesterday Mayor Adler raised an idea to City Council. He asked them to consider approving The Grove on first reading this Thursday in order to move the case forward even though there are still unresolved issues. (The Grove would still have to return for a 2nd and 3rd reading in order to be fully approved in November.)

Mayor Adler asked his fellow Council Members to recognize an important point: Everyone wants a Planned Unit Development (PUD) approved for The Grove. With a PUD, the city gets a new, large park, affordable housing, environmental protections, infrastructure improvements and other things that it would not get without a PUD. 

It sounds like the majority in the community also wants to avoid a scenario where The Grove switches from a PUD to conventional zoning and everyone loses out on all the public benefits. 

We agree with Mayor Adler’s suggestion as a way to keep the case moving forward while the Council continues to work through the issues. And clearly, we also want a Planned Unit Development. 

However, The Grove can only move forward as a PUD if it makes economic sense to do so. We still have serious concerns with some of the amendments being discussed that would shrink the project too much or add-on new costs. As always, we remain willing and committed to collaboration and discussion in an effort to find agreement with all parties. 

In light of the Mayor’s call for passage on first reading on what is certain to not be the final decision, we feel it is wise to save our presentation and supportive testimony for now, and return with our supporters once there is more clarity at City Council on The Grove. Then we will return for the public hearing before final approval. 

So if you’re looking for something exciting to watch on Thursday, turn on the Bears vs. the Packers. Kick-off is at 7:25 PM. 
 

Get Your YIMBY On!

What does YIMBY mean? It means "Yes in my backyard."

Show everyone your YIMBY side on social media. Click the imagery below and it will pop-up in a new window. Put "YIMBY" on your Facebook Profile Picture or Cover Photo. 

YIMBY also means you love your city enough to support the change we need to make our city more sustainable.

In his great article "Why is Austin's Housing More Expensive than other Texas Cities?" Scott Beyer reports in Forbes that Austin suffers from a "relative unwillingness to build more housing."

Let's change that by standing up and saying YES. 

Let's Get Serious About Traffic

Have you heard that The Grove will “add 19,441 vehicles per day” to Bull Creek Road?
 
It’s simply not true, and here’s why it’s so wrong.

When traffic engineers study a new development and its projected traffic, they estimate “trip generation” in order to forecast how many cars might enter and exit a site. They use mathematical formulas found in the Institute for Transportation Engineer’s Trip Generation Manual to estimate TRIPS not vehicles.

Again, traffic engineers estimate trips, not vehicles

Let's consider this. One vehicle makes multiple “trips” in a day. For example, you may get in your car, leave your home, drop the kids at school, leave school to go to work, leave work and return home. That's ONE car, making SIX trips. Makes sense, right? 

This is why the number of vehicles is always much less than the number of trips. 
 
But instead of trying to explain traffic engineering or the differences between trips and vehicles, let’s just talk vehicles.
 
According to our Traffic Impact Analysis, which has been accepted and approved by the Austin Transportation Department, the busiest segment of Bull Creek Road will see approximately 4,316 round trips from vehicles.
 
Not 19,441 cars. Not enough cars to line up “bumper to bumper” to Hays County, as some have also claimed.
 
The approved traffic analysis counts only 4,316 cars over a 24-hour period going in and out of the busiest segment of Bull Creek Road. That is a very manageable amount of traffic.
 
Let’s get serious. Traffic is a challenge everywhere in Austin and we need to deal with facts, not propaganda.
 
After we make more than $9 million in improvements to the streets, intersections, sidewalks, and bike lanes bordering The Grove, including adding lanes and capacity to the intersection of Bull Creek Road and 45th Street, the intersections around The Grove will be far less congested than they would be even if the Grove didn’t happen. 
 
Click here to send your email of support for The Grove to City Council. 

We Took the Media on a Parks Tour!

Did you hear that plans for The Grove now expand the Signature Park from 13 acres to 16.25 acres. That's right! The total amount of parkland in The Grove is now 19.88 acres or 26.5 percent of the 75-acre mixed-use project. Plus, the parks proposal from The Grove officially earned the recognition of “Superior” from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, we conducted a guided walking tour of central Austin’s future 16.25-acre public park for the media. 

Reporters toured the locations of the future restaurants, playgrounds, recreational spaces, pond boardwalk, and trail system. 

Everyone enjoyed walking among the picturesque grove of live oaks trees, many of which are at least 200-years-old. 

KXAN attended: http://kxan.com/2016/10/12/plans-for-the-grove-at-shoal-creek-parkland-unveiled/

FOX 7 - KTBC came too: http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/211350444-story

Thanks also to CBS Austin for attending. 

It’s time to stop the costly delays and obstructions.

"...every politically aggravated ordinance, debate, delay, duplicate review, or ideological lawsuit over necessary residential development doesn't just cost the 'Evil Developer' – it costs every last one of us,"
Michael King, Austin Chronicle

If you follow urban planning and housing issues, you’ve probably already heard about President Obama’s recent call for American cities to change their out of date development policies in order to increase the housing supply, improve affordability, and reduce segregation.

Recognizing that "zoning, other land use regulations, and unnecessarily lengthy development approval processes [have] reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand," President Obama’s call is consistent with the same call being made by business groups, progressive urbanists and social justice advocates on both sides of partisan and ideological divides. 

This week, the Austin Chronicle’s well-respected columnist Michael King localized the issue, using The Grove to illustrate just how counter productive Austin’s time-consuming and costly approval process has become. 

King writes: “If we're going to make real progress on bending the Austin cost curve, we've got to find some political middle ground that enables a substantial increase in the overall housing supply, affordable and market-rate alike.”

We’ve worked hard for 22 months to craft a proposal that is carefully balanced and achieves that middle ground, maximizing public benefits and addressing community impacts while still ensuring that this private project is economically viable and able to move forward. 

We’ve reduced the proposed amount of office space by 35 percent and capped the size of all retailers at neighborhood scale. We significantly cut the number of single-family homes and greatly increased options and supply for other more affordable forms of housing, and we vastly increased the amount of parkland to 19.88 acres -- or nearly 27 percent of the site. We have proposed to fully mitigate traffic impacts and provide additional, sustainable transportation improvements far beyond the project’s impact.

The Grove has gone through one of the most – if not the most -- rigorous development reviews in Austin’s history and earned a superiority rating from city staff, including the Parks and Recreation Department, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, Watershed Protection Department, Planning and Zoning Department, and others. 

We have delivered a well-planned, vibrant and sustainable project that meets the city’s criteria for the zoning requested as well as the community’s vision for this unique property as confirmed by the Zoning and Platting Commission. 

But it’s clear that the future of The Grove is now threatened by the same obstacles that helped create Austin’s housing shortage and affordability crisis — obstacles that the White House says have to go.

As Michael King writes: “That is, every politically aggravated ordinance, debate, delay, duplicate review, or ideological lawsuit over necessary residential development doesn't just cost the "Evil Developer" – it costs every last one of us. One can hope for some broader public realization, but somehow I doubt this latest admonition from the White House will have much salutary effect on the Austin housing crisis.”

Join us today and tell City Hall it’s time to stop the delays and obstructions that are hurting all of us.  Email City Council Members and urge them to approve The Grove as proposed. 

This Thursday, Sept. 22...It's On!

After more than 18 months of collaboration and planning, The Grove finally goes before Austin City Council at 2 p.m. this Thursday at City Hall.
 
Speaker registration is now open in the lobby of City Hall, but you don’t have to wait until Thursday to let Council Members know you want better walkability, more affordability, greater mobility and plentiful parkland in West Austin. 

Click here to send your email of support for The Grove: http://thegroveatshoalcreek.com/yes

Please make sure they hear from you today as they contemplate this historic decision. 

We cannot overstate how vital it is that Council Members hear directly from Grove supporters in huge numbers in order to demonstrate the project’s extensive and passionate community support.
 
Opponents are gearing up for a big showdown at City Hall. We cannot let them dominate the debate with false claims about the project and its many public benefits.

The "Better PUD," as proposed by the opposition, is a myth. It is simply not financially viable. It would be a shame if the entire process had to start all over again with a traditional zoning application, wherein all of the public benefits being offered as a result of the PUD are lost. 

The choice is clear:

Vote "Yes" to The Grove because it offers greater parkland than what's required by code under a traditional zoning; major traffic improvements that will fix the area's current congestion problems; affordable housing on site; trails and connectivity, a new bridge -- and many more benefits!

Or vote "No" and ensure that this unique property in the urban core ultimately is developed in a much less beneficial way.

Please send Council Members an email of support: http://thegroveatshoalcreek.com/yes
 
Come join us at City Hall on Thursday. Wear green!
 

Common Sense on the Comparison to Barton Creek Square Mall

In an effort to alarm people, some are claiming that The Grove is larger than Barton Creek Square Mall. 

This "comparison" does not hold up to scrutiny or common sense. 

The Grove is not a major regional mall. 

The Grove will be 86% residential. Individuals and families will call The Grove home. 

No one lives at Barton Creek Square Mall. 

Barton Creek Square Mall is 100% Commercial with 1.4 Million Square Feet of shopping and retail uses.  

The Grove will have less commercial and retail uses than the Kerbey Lane area. 

The Grove is 25% Parkland. 
Barton Creek Square Mall has no parkland. 

One more point: Everyone drives to Barton Creek Square Mall.

With a new trail system, multiple safer street crossings, and a new pedestrian/bike bridge over Shoal Creek, The Grove is made for walkers and cyclists. 

We are NOT connecting Jackson Ave To Chipper Trail.

You may have heard from the Bull Creek Road Coalition (BCRC) that the new Jackson Avenue -- as shown below -- will allow cars to travel onto Chiappero Trail. A recent alarming email claimed such a plan would "endanger our children" and "destroy this neighborhood."

No such connection is being proposed, and the City of Austin has agreed to prevent cut-through traffic. 

Look below for a diagram of the connection. The City of Austin has agreed with our plan to construct a physical barrier to prevent traffic from driving across 45th from Jackson Avenue to Chiappero Trail. We included this physical barrier in our plan specifically for the benefit of the residents to the north of the project. 

But We Will Make Crossing 45th Street Safer

We're proposing to make crossing 45th Street safer and easier for Shoalmont residents. 

We are proposing to fully fund the installation of a new Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon on 45th Street and Chiappero Trail, because we want neighbors in Shoalmont to safely bike and walk to and from The Grove. 

As shown below, this new, safer crossing allows pedestrian to cross safely. Click here to learn more about Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons.