Cedar Park - Leander | July 2020

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BY BRIAN PERDUE Apartment boomcoming to Leander regulate building materials, Leander promotes masonry facades and other higher quality materials through developer agreements, Neu said.

own a home or who have transitioned to a new location,” Leander Planning Director Robin Griffin said. “Service industry employees who see home ownership as cost-prohibitive are more likely to live in an apartment.” Griffin said apartments can serve as a draw for service industry business development. “If more apartment options are available, it could encourage more ser- vice industry development,” she said. Larry Gaddes, the Williamson County tax assessor-appraiser, said the effect of apartment construction on infrastructure and home value can vary. He said when a three-story apartment complex was built off SH

130 in Hutto, the Hutto Fire Depart- ment needed to buy a ladder truck because the city previously did not have to protect buildings that tall. Conversely, the density of apart- ments, compared to single-family home subdivisions, can sometimes be more manageable from a public safety standpoint. “How many police does it take to patrol 15 complexes versus 1,500

Like most Austin-area cities, Lean- der has over the past five years expe- rienced an increase in single-family home development. But, according to city documents, zoning and a lack of development ordinances have opened the door to a much denser form of housing: apartments. As of June 30, developers have built 1,596 apartment units in Leander since 2015, which is comparable to Cedar Park’s 1,538 total during that same time. However, Leander’s apartment development is increasing quickly and will continue to do so, according to city data. Leander has 1,677 apartment units in eight complexes currently being built—surpassing the total number of apartments built in the city built between 2015 and June 30, accord- ing to city documents. Cedar Park currently has no apartments under construction, according to city spokesperson Jennie Huerta. Leander Mayor Troy Hill said the city is working to make future apart- ments more attractive and stand the test of time. “Apartments typically don’t age well,” he said. “They do well initially because they’re the new thing, but after a few years something else is built, and they lose that attraction of being new.” According to city spokesperson Mike Neu, properties currently zoned multifamilymust now include garages for at least 75% of the units. All future multifamily developments must include a mixed-use component. While State House Bill 2439 in 2019 removed the ability for cities to

When Planned Unit Developments, or PUDs, are proposed, the city requires the use of masonry in devel- oper agreements, according to Neu. “What I tell apartment developers now is, ‘you have to knock it out of the park,’” Hill said. “They need to be mixed-use; they have to be built well.” Hill said previous councils approved the apartment projects that residents are seeing now. He was elected in 2018.

homes?” Gaddes said. Balanced development

Apartments—especially complexes without mixed-use components—can put a strain on infrastructure, such as schools and roads, if not planned

Leander is currently crafting its 2020 comprehensive plan. Scheduled to be completed by December, Hill said the plan will include stricter standards for all multifamily construction com- pared to the last plan in 2015. A need for housing From2018-19, Leander was the fastest-growing large city per- centage-wise in the U.S., accord- ing to the U.S. Census Bureau. From July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019, Leander’s population grew by 12% to 62,208 residents, accord- ing to census data. Apartments can serve those who are not ready for or cannot afford a home or simply want to downsize, city and county sources said. Mixed-use apart- ment areas offer a more urban, walkable environment com- pared to suburban homes. “Apartments often provide more flexible housing options for people who are not ready to

CONSTRUCTION

HISTORY

Cedar Park and Leander have built 3,134 apartment units since 2015, according to data from both cities.

CEDAR PARK

LEANDER

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

JAN. 1-JUNE 30

Tuckaway Apartments

22 North Apartments

Park at Crystal Falls (Phase 1) The Standard at Leander Station

The Sarah Apartments

Hills at Leander Cross Creek mixed use (Phase 1) Quest mixed use

Merritt Skye

Park at Crystal Falls (Phase 2)

Latitude at Presidio Regal Parc Apartments

Stonehaven Apartments

TOTAL

1,596 1,538

SOURCES: CITY OF CEDAR PARK, CITY OF LEANDER/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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