Brack Tract Plan
Relocate grad-student housing
Last week, people on both sides of the development debate over the University of Texas-owned Brackenridge Tract gleaned a little more information on the forthcoming dueling conceptual master plans for the project headed by Cooper, Robertson & Partners. The firm's Paul Milana hosted two "listening sessions" and outlined the project's design principles for the enormous tract that stretches along Lady Bird Lake. The most emotional aspect of the plan centers on the tract's historic Lions Municipal Golf Course. One camp has organized a campaign to "Save Muny," while another supports plans to redevelop the course.
Two items that appear to be consistent with both plans involve roadway changes and the relocation of graduate-student housing. Plans call for restructuring the intersection of MoPac and Lake Austin Boulevard to allow for a smoother northbound entry onto MoPac and redesigning MoPac's southbound ramp. Graduate-student housing would be combined and relocated to a redeveloped site currently occupied by Gateway Apartments, just east of MoPac on West Sixth. As proposed, the hilly site would feature a new student housing development with more than 800 units, combining the Gateway, Brackenridge, and Colorado apartment complexes. "We looked at places like Italian hill towns in terms of the model," Milana said. "We think we can use the grade to our advantage." He said current plans utilize the topography to tuck in small courtyards and hide parking.
Brian Gatten, former president of Graduate Student Assembly, said the Gateway option appears reasonable. "It's not the first choice of the residents who are currently in that complex, but it looks like a reasonable compromise," especially because the grad students and their families will remain in the Matthews Elementary district.
On the whole, neighborhood activist Mary Arnold expressed disappointment over the lack of information at the May 20 meeting. She had hoped for an update on the UT field laboratory, "and they barely mentioned the golf course." She also bemoaned the lack of information on "economic viability models" in terms of traffic-flow changes on Lake Austin Boulevard. And she's "concerned about the loss of affordable housing in our neighborhood if they do away with graduate-student housing. And there was certainly no mention of affordable housing as being a component of the future of the Brackenridge Tract."
The UT Board of Regents will host the next meeting June 18, when CRP is expected to unveil the final two conceptual plans. See more details at www.utbracktract.com.