Once viewed as a resort community, the city of Lakeway has grown up. Residents are slated to receive a downtown center, complete with a custom H-E-B, retail, theater and housing. A new justice center, Parks and Recreation Department building, animal shelter and ballfields are in the works as well. To deal with traffic woes from the city’s continued population growth, Lakeway staffers have developed a long-range roadway proposal. The city’s announcements coincide with this year’s 50th anniversary.
Lakeway seeking to add Downtown
By 2014 Lakeway residents may see construction begin on a downtown center anchored by an H-E-B at Glen Heather Drive and RR 620, city officials say.
Project developer William H. “Beau” Armstrong III, president and chairman of the board of directors at Stratus Properties, said that a $50 million Lakeway downtown project is in the works.
“Lakeway’s been a target market for H-E-B for some time,” Armstrong said. “It’s an ideal site, not just for H-E-B, but to create a [downtown] for Lakeway.”
After spending time in Lakeway, H-E-B sought out the West Austin site for its upcoming build, said Leslie Sweet, director of public affairs for H-E-B. Sweet said the 90,000-square-foot store will be custom-designed for the area.
“The store will enable residents to keep more of their tax dollars in their community and schools,” Sweet said. The grocery store will incorporate healthy living and to-go options. Construction of Lakeway’s H-E-B is expected to begin in late 2014, Sweet said.
Long time coming
Lakeway’s downtown plan has been in the works for years, said Laura Mitchell, Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce president.
“We always want to see sound growth that spurs the economy with jobs and more amenities for our community,” Mitchell said.
The downtown center will add retail shops, multiple restaurants and a movie theater, Armstrong said. Patio homes targeted to seniors may also be included in the buildout, he said.
“Lakeway is a very attractive market for these retailers—it’s growing and affluent,” Armstrong said.
The 250,000-square-foot project will be walkable, accessible by bike or golf cart and include open spaces without having a strip center feel, he said.
“The idea is that [the area] would function as a traditional downtown as most cities have,” Lakeway Deputy City Manager Chessie Zimmerman said.
The downtown will offer accessible public spaces and possibly a convention center, a project that could be funded by Lakeway’s Hotel Occupancy Tax, Zimmerman said.
At its May 22 work session, Lakeway Mayor Dave DeOme and council members spoke in favor of a long-range plan to include a new justice center for the city’s police station and courts, a new Parks and Recreation Department building and a new animal shelter.
Ken McCannon, Lake Travis Youth Association vice president, said the LTYA is selling its Bee Cave fields and is under contract for a Lakeway site.
The work session highlighted a study by architectural and engineering firm PBS&J in 2009. The firm considered public input for its 2010 report addressing the city’s growth, and recommended improvements for departments and facilities in the coming decade as part of the Capital Improvement Plan.
“The planning basis is that Lakeway will build out at about 25,000 people,” DeOme said. “What the CIP does is put in place some of those key facilities we think we need to service a citizenry that is 25,000 strong.”
The report cited the lack of space for Lakeway’s growing police force. The current station does not have a prisoner holding cell.
Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford said he thinks the proposed 22,500-square-foot building will be able to accommodate a larger property and evidence room, training facility, interview rooms and a canine unit.
According to the study, the Lakeway Municipal Courts have seen an increase of 116 percent in the number of cases handled during the past 10 years in its 3,900-square-foot space.
A lack of security, metal detectors and bulletproof glass are listed as reasons for the proposed move to a 5,000-square-foot facility in the planned justice center.
PBS&J reviewed the situation of Parks and Recreation Department employees currently spread out among several locations and recommended that the department’s staffers be gathered under one roof in a proposed 8,367-square-foot building.
Results of the study showed the need for a new animal shelter. The proposed 1,560-square-foot shelter could share space with other municipalities or Travis County, Zimmerman said.
Road changes, drainage needed
During the work session, Lakeway City Council members also reviewed the city’s short-term and long-range proposed road improvements which include:
Add landscaping and irrigation to Lakeway Boulevard
Reconstruct Brooks Hollow Drive.
Add an access road from Highlands Boulevard (approved) to a proposed commercial area and hotel
Make changes to Flint Rock Road (approved), Glen Heather Drive (approved) and Murfin Road (not approved)
Close Lohmans Spur (not approved), allowing the two properties on either side of the roadway to be combined for a possible commercial development
Add boardwalks, bridges and trail connectors
Add and update park restroom facilities
Replace culverts on Rolling Green Drive
Assess and improve the city’s drainage system
Funding for these projects is expected to come from the city’s general, capital reserve, parkland and parkland highlands funds, with some proposed road projects funded by developers, Zimmerman said.
Council members will receive an inventory of the proposed improvements for adoption at a later date.
Zimmerman said that since the CIP is already two years old, city officials will reserve approval on these long-range improvements until current line item costs are determined.
City staffers pitch elevated toll road to council members
A long-range plan recently unveiled by Lakeway city staffers calls for the extension of Austin’s elevated tollway through the western section of Travis County.
The plan is designed to create an alternative nonstop roadway loop to help alleviate congestion on RR 620.
The proposal would also complete an outer loop around the greater Austin area without putting the new roadway along RR 620, Deputy City Manager Chessie Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman presented a map linking
SH 45 North to SH 45 in South Austin with a road extending south along RR 620 at RR 2222, skirting Steiner Ranch and traveling through Selma Hughes Park to the eastern border of the City of Bee Cave. The proposed limited-access, elevated toll road then breaks further east toward Hwy. 71, crossing Hwy. 290 and reaching SH 45 behind the Village of San Leanna in southern Travis County.
New stretches of road totaling roughly
10 miles are needed to complete the outer loop encircling the Austin area, an idea that Zimmerman said has been discussed for decades in the area and for at least seven years in Lakeway.
“It’s clear from looking at the map that there is a gap in the regional transportation system,” Zimmerman said. “The pace and density of development along the RR 620 corridor continues to increase, and Lakeway believes that accommodating future transportation needs in western Travis County will require more improvements than can be shoehorned into the existing RR 620 right-of-way.”
Zimmerman said the roadway bisects communities up and down the corridor, including Lakeway, Hudson Bend and Bee Cave.
“Our goal is to begin the conversation about gap completion in western Travis County now, by engaging affected residents and stakeholders,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman told council members that the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Mobility 2035 plan is guiding improvements in the eastern portion of Travis County, but has only one long-range project planned for the county’s western region, on Bee Creek Road. Although the 2035 plan includes a corridor study of Hwy. 71 and RR 620, Zimmerman said that because of limited options, she does not expect the study to relieve congestion in the area.
CAMPO coordinates road and highway planning and funding for Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. CAMPO’s Mobility 2035 Plan, designed to address regional transportation needs up through 2035, is underway and work on its Mobility 2040 Plan has just begun. The plans are updated every five years.
Zimmerman said she hopes this proposal, involving an RR 620 alternate route or something similar, will be included in the CAMPO 2040 Mobility Plan.
“We need to study this  corridor,” Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said. “We’ve allowed development to occur out here and we’ve got to take it seriously. Every jurisdiction out here is growing and we’ve got to plan for it.”
Zimmerman and Jones said they plan to contact other communities to form a consortium to craft possible solutions to the RR 620 problem. The proposed road is outside Lakeway’s jurisdiction.
Zimmerman said that crossing a roadway over the Balcones Canyonland Preserve is an environmentally sensitive issue that may require the cooperation and compromise of government agencies.
“If it’s a road that 100,000 or 200,000 people need, that may make a difference,” Jones said.
Lakeway staffers approached an engineering firm and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority about the RR 620 long-range plan early in its conceptual phase.
“At the time [the Mobility Authority was approached], the concept was part of a long-term vision for increased mobility,” said Mario Espinoza, deputy executive director of the Mobility Authority.
Espinoza said that his office has not performed any work on the concept and has no immediate plans for an environmental study on the areas involved.
“If a project like this is to come to fruition, step one is to work to get it included in CAMPO’s 2040 plan,” Espinoza said. “But that would need to come from those interested in developing it in the community and the region.
“I applaud [Lakeway] for thinking outside the box on how to improve mobility while keeping the sense of community intact,” Espinoza said.
The City of Bee Cave held a special meeting June 10 to discuss the proposed road.
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