By LYNETTE HAALAND
The Steiner Ranch Apartment project hopes to break ground in early 2012 pending approvals. In a separate project, a contract is pending for a new storage unit to be built on a lot across from Quinlan Crossing.
Many in the Steiner community are not pleased with these announcements. A petition is being circulated and opposition support is being drummed up for public hearings.
Greystone Steiner Associates are the developers for 4800 Steiner Ranch Blvd. and they want to build a 298 unit complex called Steiner Ranch Apartments on the 52 acre parcel. The proposed 26 buildings will be two and three stories tall.
In another project, Taylor Woodrow Communities/Steiner Ranch LLC is seeking to subdivide 4807 N. Quinlan Park Rd. They want to subdivide the 81 acre tract into four lots. Additionally there is a contract pending on one piece of the tract to build a 100,000-square-foot, climate controlled storage facility.
These two commercially designated sites, known as MU 13 and MU 14 on Steiner Ranch community maps, are going through the approval process at the City of Austin. The City of Austin Environmental Board is currently reviewing both.
“The (developers) want it approved as quickly as possible. It usually takes six months from submitting to approval,” said Sarah Crocker, of Crocker Consultants and the authorized agent working for both developers on the two different sites. Her job is to get the projects through the approval process.
There are community members opposing both proposed developments. A petition is being circulated via email to gather signatures to stop or stall the project. It says: “We would like to obtain signatures from 75% of the Steiner residents who do not wish to see our pristine master planned community embedded with such businesses.”
Another form being circulated is a Public Hearing form from the City of Austin Planning and Development Review Department where residents within 500 feet of the proposed development can say whether they are in favor of or object to the new development.
When the projects seek approval from the City of Austin Zoning and Platting Commission, the board will consider public opinion, said Brad Jackson, Environmental Review Specialist with the City of Austin.
The triangle of land being focused on is bound by RR 620, Quinlan Park Road and Steiner Ranch Boulevard is on the the Steiner Ranch Steakhouse side, opposite Quinlan Crossing.
“Unlike the Randalls side, this side of Quinlan Park is primarily a permanent set aside, a conservation easement. A portion of it can be developed but the majority of it will forever remain undeveloped, which is a good thing,” Crocker said.
MU 13 and MU 14 will never be as developed as the Quinlan Crossing site which is the largest commercial development in Steiner, she said.
“There simply isn’t another piece of property in Steiner where you can build that kind of density. The Randalls site has no preserve land, not one square foot of that property is in a conservation easement. The exact opposite is true on the other side of Quinlan,” Crocker said.
The 4807 N. Quinlan Park Rd. site, has over 50 percent of the property within the Conservation Easement with the black-capped vireo habitat and the critical water quality and transition zone, Crocker said.
Similarly, half of the 4800 Steiner Ranch Blvd. site has a Conservation Easement for the black-capped vireo habitat.
The Steiner Ranch Apartment project was submitted for formal review on Aug. 22. Usually these types of projects have a number of formal and informal updates to address issues and do minor changes, Jackson said.
“The developers want to start as soon as they can but realistically they won’t get their permit approval until the spring,” Jackson said.
One step is to get approval for a variance. The variance for the apartment project has to do with the amount of cut and fill the property will have to do, common in sloping areas. They will have to fill some steep areas as much as 20 feet and build retaining walls, Jackson said.
The main reason for the variance is that the project has to meet requirements for proper fire protection. Fire authorities are requesting access to the back of all of the apartments. Since there will be little backyard space behind each building, this triggers big areas of fill and cut, Jackson said.
Crocker said the 298 units will be a variety of unit mixes including flats and some built with parking underneath.
“It will be a really attractive apartment complex and will blend in well,” Crocker said. In comparison, the new apartment project will be considerably smaller than the 502 apartment units at Monterone at Steiner Ranch.
Storage facility site:
Taylor Woodrow Communities/Steiner Ranch LLC applied on Sept. 21 for a re-subdivision variance at 4807 North Quinlan Park Rd. to create four lots.
Jackson expects in the next month or two that the subdivision will be approved.
The developers are also seeking approval to allow construction in a Critical Water Quality Zone for the construction of a private roadway to provide primary access. The site can only be accessed from Quinlan Park Road since access from RR 620 is prohibited from local and state authorities.
In the back corner of the tract is where developers want to build the storage facility.
The proposed climate controlled storage facility will be about 100,000-square-feet, two stories, with masonry stucco sides and a tile roof. Steiner’s commercial design criteria is more stringent than residential, Crocker said.
“It’s not going to be a big orange building. It will not be for industrial use,” Crocker said. “Lots of people like to have storage.”
Over the past years, there have been six or seven land plans on the 81 acre, MU 14 site including a hotel, medical offices and apartments. Currently the only proposal seeking approval is the storage facility, Crocker said.