Barton Sees a Building

Ah, the solace of the Barton Creek Greenbelt: the trails, the creek, the canopy of trees, the ... office building? Surprise! That concrete skeleton you see looming in the near distance is part of the Terrace PUD, a 1.1 million square-foot multiuse project whose buildings appear to be taking on more visibility along the hike-and-bike trail, just south of Spyglass. The Terrace sits along South MoPac overlooking the greenbelt, providing a nifty view for Terrace tenants that is not so nifty for hikers who used to enjoy the envelopment of nature without the intrusion of asphalt. City environmental board member Tim Jones and Save Our Springs Alliance Director Bill Bunch both say the city was promised long ago that none of the Terrace buildings would muck up the skyline from down below on the trail. Yet this particular structure is visible from the trail for at least one-third of a mile, they say. Attorney Richard Suttle, who has represented the Terrace (a partnership of Rob Arend and former gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams) since it first gained approval 14 years ago from the Planning Commission, says no such promises were ever made. Terrace developers did try to avoid creating the sense of being "in a tunnel of buildings along the creek," Suttle said, "but there were no guarantees that you wouldn't see buildings from the creek. That representation wouldn't make sense."

Former Planning Commission member Mary Arnold clearly recalls her vote on the Terrace -- "No" -- but she doesn't recall what, if any, promises were made concerning the visibility of the buildings. "All I know is that I didn't like the Terrace in that location," Arnold said. Another former planning commissioner, current Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, voted for the project reportedly after determining that the development would adhere to strict water-quality protection measures.

With two office buildings currently under construction, the Terrace, once fully developed, will include seven office structures, luxury apartments, a swank hotel, and a retail center.

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