As the marketing team for the proposed Springdale Green development is clearly aware, Austin values its green space. At the same time, the city has a troubled environmental and social history with the neighborhoods in what is now often called the "Eastern Crescent"—a swath that includes East Austin but extends north and south to wrap around the central city it in its namesake shape. It's an area that the University of California–Berkeley's Urban Displacement Project cited as historically "home to Austin’s most vulnerable population" and one that "has seen the highest rise in housing costs." (Chapple, K. & Thomas, T. (2020). Berkeley, CA: Urban Displacement Project)

The 30.18-acre lot at 1011 and 1017 Springdale Road, where San Francisco-based Jay Paul Company wants to develop an 800,000-square-foot office/retail complex, also happens to be part a site that for 35 years was home to several bulk fuel storage tank facilities and connected pipelines (locally known as the “tank farm”) owned by multiple petroleum companies. After much work on the part of Eastside activist group PODER and other city and neighborhood organizations, the site was shut down in 1993. The contamination that made the former tank farm a brownfield site has been mitigated, but residential uses are still not permitted there.

To that end, developers are seeking a change to Planned Unit Development zoning for the site, which would allow more denisty and height than its current zoning offers. Jay Paul's development plans include two office buildings with ground floor retail and a separate parking garage for the land; the buildings would be able to reach 93 feet in height—significantly higher than the 60 feet under current zoning—if the City Council approves the zoning change.

Proposed PUD area for Springdale GreenVia City of Austin

Located in City Council District 3, represented by Councilmember Sabino “Pio” Renteria, the tract is also part of the Boggy Creek and Tannehill Branch urban watersheds. The city's Environmental Commission has already given the plans for Springdale Green its stamp of approval. The proposed project is near the corner of Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard, adjacent to and just southeast of arts-oriented business complex Springdale General, which opened in 2018.

Springdale Green site planKimley Horn via City of Austin

At its regular meeting last week, the city Planning Commission voted 7-4 to support PUD zoning for the tract. If the Springdale Green development moves forward, it will donate $700,000 to the city's affordable housing fund, along with $250,000 to a nearby urban trail project, $75,000 for property tax assistance to East Austin residents, and more than $400,000 to address flooding in the adjacent watershed. As a large portion of the property is located in a floodplain, plans are for the buildings to be located along Springdale Road, with impervious cover limited to 50 percent of the site.

The Springdale-Airport Neighborhood Association issued a letter of support for the project, with a later addendum stating that it wishes for the height limit on any buildings to remain at 60 feet.