Marble Falls council opens door to downtown apartment development

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

Buck Dubray of Texas General Contractors assures the Marble Falls City Council that the development of The Lofts at 99 Main can easily comply with the Downtown Master Plan.

Bond interest rates a finance boon

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander


If the mind's eye is still adjusting to a hotel-conference center next to Lakeside Park in Marble Falls, blink again and add a 100-unit apartment complex with ground floor retail stores.

The Marble Falls City Council on Tuesday, Jan 7, approved a zoning change to allow just that. Buck Dubray of Texas General Contractors, which is proposing The Lofts at 99 Main, was present with site plans and architectural concepts to answer questions about the project.

Main Street District (MSD) zoning will be changed to Planned Development District (PPD) with an MSD base zone for 1.99 undeveloped acres, known as Lot 1-B, Block 332, of the Marble Falls Original Township subdivision, municipally addressed as 99 Main Street. That is the long-vacant hillside southeast of the Marble Falls Public Library.

“The area has street frontage on three improved public streets, Main Street, Yett Street, and Avenue H,” said City Planner Elizabeth Yeh.

She said the Planning & Zoning Commission and city staff had been in agreement with the PPD zoning to accommodate Texas General Contractors proposed 25 Studio/Alcove units, 45 one-bedroom/one bath units and 30 two-bedroom/two bath units, with 159 off-street, gated-entry parking spaces to the rear of the building. The lot entry would be aligned with the First Street and Avenue H intersection to create a four-way stop.

The retail area should occupy about 3,500 square feet, below the five-story apartment complex, according to the proposal and council members were interested in public improvements to existing downtown on-street parking to serve the retail businesses. They would include, the council learned, parallel parking on Yett Street and 25 angle spaces on Avenue H.

Negotiation of a license agreement ultimately will be required regarding proposed sidewalk additions, downtown street lights, commercial patio space, tree planters, and landscaping also are proposed to enhance the pedestrian accessibility around the project.

The council approved the zoning change, following a public hearing, with the stipulation being that the final landscape plan would be consistent with the Downtown Master Plan and improvements recently constructed in the public right-of-way.

Fire Chief Russell Sander was present to assure the council that the city's ladder truck could offer fire protection for the six-story building. The final provision of approval came after Sander confirmed that protection would come at the cost of the landscaped traffic median on Main Street.

“The city has invested a lot in recent landscape improvements,” said Council Member Ryan Nash. “I would hope new landscaping would follow the use of tree grates (like those along the Market on H) and the Downtown Plan ought to be preserved.”

If plans for The Lofts at 99 Main are completed within the next four months, a groundbreaking on what should be a 14-month construction project, could take place by late summer.

The council also approved a conditional use permit for a 2.49 acre tract of land, with frontage on Industrial Boulevard, for a controlled-climate storage unit complex. To be located between City Electric and Elliott Electric, the project is to be known as Aladdin Self Storage.

Tom Barker of Aladdin Home Store requested the permit that was endorsed by the P&Z and city staff. He proposed construction in four phases, beginning immediately with an office and 7,650 square-foot storage facility. Three more facilities of equal size would be added in succession, as a previous building approaches 80 percent capacity.

Finance Director Margie Cardenas and Andrew Friedman of SAMCO Capital Markets, Inc.came to the council with good news: better than expected interest rates for bond sales.

The council previously authorized the sale of $1.8 million in new certificates of obligation for city projects this year. The interest rate for those bonds came in at 2.52 percent Friedman reported.

“One million dollars of those bonds, the largest portion, will be used for the new Marble Falls Public Safety Facility,” said Cardenas. “Another $230,000 will be used for vehicles for the police and street departments, $190,000 to refurbish a fire engine and $50,000 for the new Johnson Park playscape.”

The new playscape, which replaces a 25-year-old wooden structure, already is in place on the amphitheater side of Avenue J and a ribbon cutting is planned for March 4.

The council also authorized the issuance of approximately $6.880 million in bonds to re-finance existing debt.

Friedman reported an even better rate, 2.18 percent, on that sale. The savings in interest should be about $733,000 over the 11 years remaining in the life of the indebtedness.

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