Murphy Creek development a step closer

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 27, 2001

The $12 million project known as the Murphy Creek development is closer to a reality today, after the Austin City Council approved the developer’s agreement Thursday afternoon.

Friday, April 27, 2001

The $12 million project known as the Murphy Creek development is closer to a reality today, after the Austin City Council approved the developer’s agreement Thursday afternoon. Prior to the council meeting, the agreement was approved at a special council finance committee meeting.

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The approval of the developer’s agreement is one of the steps necessary before the final closing on the property can take place next week. Planning and Zoning Administrator Craig Hoium said he anticipates the closing will be contingent on approval of the council at their May 7 meeting.

The first phase of the development will include 88 townhomes; 18 single-family lots; street work on 25th Avenue NW, a short section of Seventh Street NW and 11th Street NW, and an extension of 24th Avenue NW; a 1.6-acre municipal park; a 4,500-lineal-feet trail to wind north and then west of the development from Fourth Street NW to 11th Street NW; and hard-surface roads, curbs and gutters, and decorative street lighting.

According to Hoium, the proposed trail will be designed along the same lines as others in town. It will be placed on outlots owned and maintained by the city. Along the west side of the development, a small area of wetland will remain under the city’s sphere of responsibility as well.

More than $52,000 in utility improvements is part of the agreement. The public improvements in the first phase are expected to be completed by Dec. 31. Construction on the townhomes, however, will start immediately, which means several buildings should be completed and will be available for tenants before the end of the year. Construction on the first four buildings of townhomes will start just north of Midwest Diesel.

A chain-link fence will be added to a line of spruce trees south of the Murphy Creek development site and between the site and Midwest Diesel, as an additional physical buffer. In addition, spruce trees will be transplanted along the west side of Midwest Diesel, where another chain-link fence will be added as well.

The townhomes include a combination of market-rate and subsidized housing. Hoium said the size of the townhome development may constitute three or four managers instead of one.

Hoium said the start of the second phase will be contingent upon the progress of the construction on the first phase and how fast those townhomes are renting and the single-family lots are sold. The second phase includes 36 townhomes and 13 single-family lots. The anticipated price for the lots is $12,000 to $15,000.

The sale of the single-family lots and the money generated from the rental of the townhomes will help pay for the infrastructure already present at the site. The money generated by Tax Increment Finance District No. 12, which includes the Murphy Creek development site, will be used to build roads, install street lighting and utilities and construct storm water ponds in the area.

First Ward Councilman Wayne Goodnature expressed concern that local construction companies would not be given a chance to participate in a project.

"They will be able to participate," Hoium said. In fact, City Concrete Co. will be pouring all the foundations.

After speaking with city Public Works Director Jon Erichson, Hoium said a final layer of blacktop will be added onto the roads in the development area in 2002, because heavy equipment will be used in the construction of the development and may damage the asphalt if it was poured before the construction is complete.

The developer’s agreement does not cover public improvements assessments in the area. According to Hoium and Finance Director Tom Dankert, an agreement must be reached as to who will pay for assessments for the new infrastructure in the development area, before the property transitions to Podawiltz Development, known in the developer’s agreement as Murphy Creek townhomes of Austin Limited Partnership.

Dankert said the city already has $275,000 in infrastructure investment into the area. The first $120,000 will come back to the city when the first phase of the development is complete. The rest will come back to the city after the completion of the second phase.

"Will that be earmarked for continued development in the area?" Councilman-at-Large Dick Chaffee asked of the funds Podawiltz will pay back to the city.

"I think that would be a good use of the funds," Mayor Bonnie Rietz said.

Hoium said Podawiltz Development will give the city the money for public improvements up front, so that the infrastructure will be completed even if for some reason the developer walked away half of the way through the project. The city nor Podawiltz expects that scenario to occur.