Austin-based development company Legend Communities has big plans for the city’s near east side — literally! But those plans have not come without a dose of scrutiny by municipal officials and a dash of controversy from organizers within the community.
Early this year, the company began touting a proposed mixed-use project that has been christened One Two East. The project is proposed on nearly 3 acres of land currently occupied by a CVS pharmacy and a bingo hall on the northbound Interstate 35 frontage road between 11th and 12th Streets.
Two companies are working with Legend Communities and handling the nuts-and-bolts of the project: land-use experts Drenner Group and JH West 12th Street Partners, Ltd.
The heart of the One Two East proposal is multifamily housing, which could feature as many as 474 units if plans move forward. Other components of the project include a senior living facility and a grocery store.
In an interview with BuildingATX, Bill Hayes, Legend Communities’ chief operating officer, said there are a number of reasons he believes a project of One Two East’s scale would benefit the immediate area, including close proximity to the University Medical Center Brackenridge and the University of Texas.
“We feel like the east side is cool and funky and interesting, and this would fit right in,” Hayes said. “This is something that is out of the ordinary and is a total twist on what people are used to.”
But that outside-the-box thinking could, perhaps, be part of the reason One Two East has drawn controversy in its relatively young life as a concept. (Hayes said the earliest planning stages for the project go back a year.)
Neighborhood organizers have launched a vigorous campaign, No More One Two East, that has included a website and a swath of signs displayed throughout the community.
Among the group’s concerns, as noted on the website, include claims the mixed-use development “will bring at least 10,000 cars per day to our neighborhoods, tower over historic and affordable homes and permanently challenge the viability of central east Austin single-family neighborhoods.”
The height of the project, which in its initially proposed state would include two 15-story towers, was initially set at 185 feet per tract. But that number was slightly whittled down in mid-February when the city Planning Commission weighed in on the project, which requires rezoning.
As part of their motion, commissioners stated one of the two tracts could be the requested 185 feet, but the other tract could not exceed 150 feet. Noting the commissioners’ decision, Hayes said he has asked the architects to tweak their conceptual drawings.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can work and satisfy everyone’s concerns,” Hayes said. “We’re doing our best.”
Hayes said one of the overtures the participating companies have made is neighborhood meetings. He said multiple gatherings have occurred, most recently on March 29th. Modified plans are scheduled to go back to the Austin City Council on April 14.
The initial groundbreaking goal was midway into 2016, but Hayes said that timeline is expected to push back to the end of the year because of some of the modifications that have occurred.
If all goes as planned, Hayes said he expects all components of One Two East to be fully operational within three years.
Stay tuned to BuildingATX as we follow this developing story. What do you think about the proposed One Two East project? Leave your comments below!