The Train's First Stop: Crestview
Developers try to capitalize on the Transit Oriented Development Ordinance in Crestview neighborhood
It's been a little more than a year since the Transportation Oriented Development Ordinance was passed by the Austin City Council, and the first effects of the zoning law are taking shape in the north-central neighborhood of Crestview. The ordinance put into motion shortly after voters approved Capital Metro's plans for a Leander-to-Downtown commuter rail line in November 2004 was crafted with an eye toward maximizing the train's ridership. By creating "TOD districts" of high-intensity, mixed-use development close to the station platforms, city leaders hoped private developers would put lots of "mass" near the "transit."
Dallas-based Trammell Crow Company and Austin's Stratus Properties took the bait first, buying the 73-acre site of the former Huntsman Chemical research facility adjacent to the planned Airport and Lamar stop of MetroRail (as the transit agency has styled the commuter train). Consistent with the TOD's intent, the "Crestview Station" project will have about 64,000 square feet of retail and office space, integrated with about 800 apartments and condominiums nearest the train platform and about 400 single-family homes mostly in the narrow "row house" style, rather than the more traditional lots of the established neighborhood on the streets farther out.
Passers-by on North Lamar will notice that all of the old Huntsman buildings are now gone. Less obvious is that an environmental remediation is taking place; it should wrap up the first quarter of next year and construction should start in April.
"[Stratus CEO] Beau Armstrong went up to Denver to do a tour of the Stapleton project, which is a little more akin to the Mueller redevelopment; it's their old airport redevelopment project there," said Mike Blizzard, the community relations consultant for Crestview Station, on models the developers might be using for their plans. "There are similar things happening here on a much larger scale at Mueller, and, for instance, at the Triangle, although the Triangle didn't have the complicating factor of it being an old industrial site."
Blizzard and other developer representatives will speak at the next meeting of the Crestview Neighborhood Association on Monday, Sept. 11, at 7pm, at St. Louis King of France Catholic Church, 7601 Burnet Rd., in Wozniak Hall (the small, fenced building behind the chapel).