The Austin City Council has approved a zoning change that will allow the development of an office project of unprecedented height and size for its Eastside neighborhood. On June 10, council members voted unanimously to rezone 30 acres of land at 1011 and 1017 Springdale Road, creating a Planned Unit Development on the tract. The move clears the way for California developer Jay Paul to build two six-story office buildings totaling 775,000 square feet and a parking garage on the former site of a “tank farm” where petroleum and chemicals were piped in and stored for decades.
In pursuing PUD zoning, Jay Paul sought a height of up to 93 feet for the buildings, 33 feet higher and with approximately 15 percent more square footage than was allowed under the tract's prior zoning. Due to contamination from past use—which was eventually discontinued and somewhat mitigated after sustained and concerted efforts by local activist groups, notably People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources—the property cannot be used for housing or public parkland.
Jay Paul also presented plans for extensive property improvements that would address flooding in some nearby neighborhoods, and particularly on Saucedo Street, which dead-ends into the property.
During the public communication part of the process, nearby neighborhood associations and individual neighbors repeatedly took issue with the height of the development and expressed the fear that it would lead to further gentrification of the East Austin neighborhood.Other neighbors have expressed support for the proposed project, most often citing heightened improvements to prevent or mitigate flooding from the site as well as from nearby commercial properties. Much of the property is in floodplain, and the plan’s landscape design is focused on measures to address that issue as well as on restoration.
In exchange for the rezoning and increases in height and square footage allowance, the development team offered around $8 million in community benefits, including a $700,000 donation to the city’s affordable housing trust fund (a common fee-in-lieu arrangement for developers seeking code and zoning modifications). In approving the proposal on second reading, the council added the provisions that the PUD contribution for stormwater infrastructure improvements would increase if its current water diversion plan isn't feasible, that the affordable housing fee-in-lieu would be dedicated for use in a designated geographic area near the property, and that permitted building height at 85 feet from residential property lines would be reduced from 75 feet to 64 feet. At the June 10 meeting, housing and planning department staff member Jerry Rusthoven clarified that affordable-housing donations from the project would be committed to council district 3, where Springdale Green is located, for seven years; if not used in the district at the end of that period, the money will go back to the general
housing trust fund.