Monday, May 18, 2015

Height of Buildings in Point West

The architect, L.M. Holder III, has recently confirmed that all of the buildings on the site will be limited to 40 ft in compliance with LO zoning.

LO is Limited Office and is defined in Austin's Neighborhood Planning: Guide to Zoning. The impervious cover standard in LO is superseded by environmental overlays.

Estimation of Traffic Impacts

There are three new developments on Loop 360 - San Clemente at Davenport, Capital Ridge Office and Hotel, and Point West at Marshall Ranch. The three big developments are going to add a lot of traffic to Loop 360.

I calculated the average daily trip generation from the Institute of Traffic Engineers' Trip Generation Manual. The traffic on Loop 360 was obtained from TxDOT's Annual Average Daily Traffic Counts for 2013 posted on the CAMPO web site. The comparison of new traffic generated by the developments with Loop 360 was to the closest point of measured traffic. The data on the sites were obtained from their web sites or on this blog.

Capital Ridge has 213K sq ft of office space and a 198 room hotel generating 4,328 trips daily about 9% increase in the Loop 360 traffic near the site.

San Clemente has 716K sq ft of office space and 30K sq ft of retail generating 7,514 trips daily about an increase of 14% in the Loop 360 traffic near the site.

Point West at Marshall Ranch will have 350K sq ft of office space generating 3,500 trips daily about 9% increase in the Loop 360 traffic near the site.

The percent impacts are only approximate because of the unknown actual traffic patterns that will develop. And while it is tempting to add all the new trips together, again it will depend upon the actual traffic patterns that will develop, and beyond the scope of this simple analysis.

The one that concerns us most is Point West. As stated above, it is estimated to generate about 3,500 trips per day on average. If that much traffic came through Lost Creek Blvd., the traffic on Lost Creek would go from 11,000 to 14,500, a 32% increase. Fortunately, we don't have to be concerned about that possibility, as Point West has a direct access to Loop 360, and the developers are working on getting access to Las Cimas Parkway.

With that in mind, the impact of traffic on the Lost Creek Blvd. and Loop 360 intersection becomes important. To estimate that, as we only have average daily traffic counts, the following assumptions are made:

  • Half of the traffic going into Point West occurs in the AM
  • Half of the traffic exiting Point West occurs in the PM
  • Half of the traffic going to and coming from Point West is from the North
  • Half of the traffic going to and coming from Point West is from the South

The following drawing results from those assumptions:

Red Indicates Egress at Las Cimas Blvd. Blue Indicates Egress Direct to Loop 360. Fractions are the Fraction of the Average Daily Traffic

This indicates that Point West will increase the average daily traffic through the Loop 360 – Lost Creek intersection by about 7% with direct ingress/egress to Loop 360. That would be reduced to about 5% if the traffic ingress/egress was Las Cimas Parkway, or Las Cimas Parkway and directly to Loop 360, assuming all people leaving the facility and wanting to go North would opt for the Las Cimas Parkway exit.

An actual traffic impact study will be made by the developers of Point West during the process of requesting a new zoning of the land. It's best to wait for the professional study. This estimate was made because there is concern about the traffic impact of Point West in the community. Consider this only a gross sizing of the traffic impacts.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Latest Drawings of Point West at Marshall Ranch

Here are the latest drawings from L. M. Holder III architects on how the proposed development would look. Click on the images to enlarge.
Aerial View of Point West at Marshall Ranch
From Bottom Left to Upper Right
Surface Parking, Office Building (4 stories), Parking Garage, and Office Building (3 story)

Point West at Marshall Ranch
Green Area is Wildlife Management Area

View from Lost Creek Blvd looking West from Just Past the "condos"
Houses and Buildings Shown Transparent
View From near Arronimink and Lost Creek Blvd.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marshall Tract Google Earth

Here's a view of the Marshall Tract from Google Earth. Hope you will make meeting tonight at Lost Creek Country Club at 7 pm for presentation and discussion  of development plans.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Proposal for the Marshall Tract

In a discussion on April 22, 2015 with me and two representatives from the Lost Creek MUD and three representatives from the Lost Creek Neighborhood Association, the land owners, Dan Marshall, representing himself and his co-owner sister Wren, the architect, L. M. (Mac) Holder, and the property manager, Victor Russo revealed their plans for the historically, environmentally and neighborhood significant Marshall Tract.

Under the current plan, not all of the 37.71 acre site will be developed. They will request the zoning be changed to LO (Limited Office), with no code exemptions or variances, meaning at most 40% impervious cover.  The two buildings, parking garage, parking lot and access drive(s) will be built on this small portion of the property.  The Marshalls will create a county designated minimum 20 acre wildlife management area from the remaining area primarily on the Lost Creek (South) side of the property and wrapping around to the East and West.  The wildlife management area will remain undisturbed during and after construction for the benefit of the birds and wildlife.

A perspective from above the development is shown below.

All  the trees and other characteristics of perspective are representations of the actual land and trees. The buildings are drawings of what the buildings might look like. The Eanes/Marshall historical family cemetery is nestled at the South East corner of the parking garage and Western edge of the building closest to Loop 360. The perspective is from the East with Quaker Ridge in the foreground, Lost Creek Blvd. to the right, and Loop 360 just below the top edge of the perspective.

The development, presently called Point West at Marshall Ranch, is planned with the following characteristics:

  • Approximately 350,000 square feet of Class A office space
  • All buildings 3 or 4 story above ground
  • Designed to fit into the topography of the land
  • The closest distance from Quaker Ridge to an office building is 500 feet.
  • Underground utilities
  • Energy conscious design and environmentally compatible architecture
  • Entrance and exit directly on Loop 360
  • No variances to City zoning, hill country roadway or environmental ordinances
  • Minimal destruction of vegetation on the land and no blasting during construction
  • Meets “Dark Sky” requirements
  • Xeriscaping of developed land.
  • Walking trails and picnic grounds on developed land, and trails possibly connected to Boulder Creek Park and Loop 360.
  • Low visibility from Lost Creek
  • Permanent protection of undeveloped portions of land.
  • Professional on-site property management and leasing.

Below is a perspective of the development from near Quaker Ridge and Lost Creek Blvd.

All the vegetation are the right size and in the actual location being derived from a series of photographs of the Marshall Tract.

The view below is from Lost Creek Blvd, just past the condos.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Northwest PUD Project Remains Stalled

"Though developers introduced it last summer, the Austin Oaks Planned Unit Development continues to linger among the city’s boards and commissions as the neighborhood and developers work on hammering out some kind of compromise.

Developer Spire Realty Group LP has already made some changes to the initial proposal for the 32 acres located on the southwest corner of Spicewood Springs Road and MoPac Boulevard. PUD zoning would allow the developer to move forward with its plans, which include 850,000 square feet of office space and about 100,000 square feet of retail space.

In November, Spire Realty Group offered to reduce the height of the tallest building from 225 feet to 200 feet and reduce the number of apartments to 300 units. The developer has also offered to make improvements to and create a fund for nearby Doss Elementary. However, with the plan stalled, all of those compromises remain theoretical."

- See more at:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marshall Tract Status


Cousins Properties Inc. will not develop the Marshall Tract. Dan Marshall is working with L. M. Holder III architects on a new proposal for the Marshall Tract.  L.M. Holder III commits his practice to creating architecture compatible with the climate and the environment and to share this knowledge of energy efficient systems and renewable energy with others to build a sustainable environment. More information will be made available in the future. More about L.M. Holder III is available on his web site:

L.M. Holder III Bio

“L.M. Holder III commits his practice to creating architecture compatible with the climate and the environment and to share this knowledge of energy efficient systems and renewable energy with others to build a sustainable environment. There are finite conventional resources and an infinite need for these resources. For us to sustain our society, we must integrate renewable energy and sustainable materials into architecture. Our choice is not if we change, but how much will be left when our priorities change. The earlier the change is made, the longer our standard of life can be maintained. Holder researches historic examples, designs new buildings, shares information with others, and gives lectures and seminars for professionals, and non-professionals alike. His leadership promotes alternative performance energy standards to allow design freedom and promote innovation when prescriptive standards were proposed. He gives many lectures and seminars and writes workbooks and guidelines to promote energy responsible architecture and his architectural projects receive national recognition as do his lectures and seminars. Holder is a leader in researching methods of making the transition and sharing information with others, creating buildings which are benchmarks for energy efficient design; even creating buildings and structures which generate more energy than they use. He provides energy, daylighting, and computer simulated lighting and consulting services for professional, institutional, public, and private clients. Throughout his career he endeavors to be part of the ultimate solution to create a quality environment which can be sustained.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Houses vs. Office Buildings

At an Eanes ISD community bond forum, I got the chance to ask a question about what type of development would be most beneficial to the school district - single family house or office development. The answer was counter intuitive because I would have thought that the office development with more capital value would be preferred from the perspective of school financing. That turned out not to be true for three reasons. First EISD is not at capacity for students so additional students don't require new facilities, within limits of course. Secondly,  the benefits financially have to be viewed as a delta to the existing conditions. And, third, EISD has an expense shortfall of between 4M and 5M dollars annually. The state recaptures 54% of our local tax dollars now and that will increase to 63% in five years. And, apparently it's even worse when it's looked at from the perspective of a delta. If I remember correctly, 90% of the delta due to capital improvements of property would go to the state. Therefore, whether the land is developed  for house or office buildings is not important to EISD with respect to  tax revenue. However, the additional capital value of the offices would give the district more ability for bond issues. On the other hand, single family homes would presumably bring more students into the district thereby increasing the amount of money given by the state per student. This would  help alleviate EISD's operating expense short fall.

If you'd like a copy of the presentation given at the forum on January 14, 2015, click here.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Another Perspective on How the Buildings Might Look

As I have stated earlier, photographic or graphic perspectives on how a building might look on hilly terrain to the neighborhood are tricky. Cameras and drawings can't match the eye exactly. Those of us who have attempted such things that have been reported in this blog are careful attempts, hopefully, not biased attempts to help residents "see" what might become. Here's another attempt.

I took the following two pictures with the same camera at the same focal length, each about 2,200 feet from the building or proposed building site - one of Cielo Center and the other of the Marshall Tract. Cielo Center is a six story building with 270,00 square feet of space. I don't know what Cousins will finally propose but the earlier proposal was two buildings - 5 and 7 story. The final image is a map showing the approximate camera location and view.

I'll leave up to the reader to visualize for their selves what the buildings might look like.

Cousins' perspectives on how the two buildings would look from various perspectives are now available on the Lost Creek Neighborhood Association's web site. Click here to view the slide presentation. Below is one perspective from further west on Lost Creek Blvd. The picture was created with a different camera with a different focal length from a different perspective.

The drawing bellow compares the perspectives of the two sets of images. In the two pictures I took, I was about 2200 feet from the building and the field of view was about 40 degrees. The Cousins perspective is about 1200 feet from the largest building, and a 65 degree field of view.