San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 9th, 2008
Carma to try again in San Marcos

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

The developers of an ill-fated residential project on the north end of San Marcos are going to try their luck on the south end.

Carma Texas went before the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) Tuesday night with an introduction to Paso Robles, which would place 3,427 homes on 1,338.5 acres, mostly outside the present city limits. The development would be bounded on the east by 5,500 feet of frontage on Hunter Road, which would be bisected by Centerpoint Road west of Interstate-35.

Carma also is the developer of Blanco Vista, located just west of I-35 between Stagecoach Road and Yarrintgon Road. Planned for 2,000 homes, the Blanco Vista development is off to an inauspicious start due to the present unfavorable conditions in the housing market.

Though it lies within the San Marcos city limits, the Blanco Vista development is within the Hays CISD. Anticipating a flood of students in the area, the Hays school district went so far this year as to open an elementary school, called Blanco Vista Elementary School, on land within the school district donated by Carma.

However, only 55 homes have been built so far in Blanco Vista, and Carma Texas General Manager Shaun Cranston said about 30 families live there. Cranston said the developers also have service to 150 lots in the first phase, as well as service to another 100 lots adjacent to the new elementary school.

Against that backdrop, Cranston has come back to San Marcos with an even larger and more ambitious project, which includes an 18-hole golf course and 339.3 acres of parks and open space.

“Carma has a much further vision than the next three to six months,” Cranston said after showing the concept to the P&Z. “We’re in for the long haul. We think, overall, the fundamentals are in place for growth in San Marcos and Central Texas.”

Cranston told the P&Z that the first homes probably wouldn’t go on the market until Spring of 2011. In addition to residences, the Paso Robles project would include a 48.4-acre commercial portion across Hunter Road and bordered on the north by Centerpoint Road.

P&Z commissioners generally supported the project, though the details will take some untangling. Carma wants approval for a Planned Development District (PDD), along with hook-ups to the city’s water and wastewater services. Cranston said he is hoping to irrigate the golf course by tapping into the city’s treated effluent lines running near the outlet malls.

About 900 acres of the proposed development site are outside the city limits. Carma said it would voluntarily annex to the city along a time frame roughly corresponding with the availability of city services.

The development calls for the utilization of “smart growth” principles, including clustered residential developments with homes on relatively small lots so more open space can be made available. P&Z Chairman Sherwood Bishop praised the concept of clustering homes, but P&Z Commissioners Ryan Thomason and Cecil Pounds advised Cranston that the market in San Marcos would more likely respond to larger lot sizes.

Within the proposed Paso Robles development are two small parcels that will not be part of the project – a five-acre piece for the Barnes family and a nine-acre piece for the Lowman family. Carma bought most of the land from those two families, who wished to retain pieces. Cranston said those two pieces will not voluntarily annex to the city.

In writing and in person, citizens expressed a batch of concerns from traffic safety to water availability to worries that the land might include cemeteries and archaeological treasure. Cranston said the developers are following the city’s road plans, that arrangements are being made for water from the city, that an archaeological study has found nothing of interest and that he knows of no cemeteries on the property.

Cranston said the PDD designation would allow the development enough flexibility to build homes in the clusters, as designed. The Paso Robles project is likely to feature a higher end home, as Cranston said it is targeted to families with at least one permanent resident who is 55 or older.

Despite today’s dire conditions in the housing market, Cranston told the P&Z that he has no qualms about Carma’s $35-40 million investment in the San Marcos area because he still expects the Austin-San Antonio corridor to develop along the same lines as the Metroplex. Cranston went so far as to mention that San Marcos is analogous to the location of a new Dallas Cowboys stadium that will open next fall in Arlington.

“You are smack dab in the middle of the biggest economic generator in Texas over the next 25 years, and Texas is going to be the biggest economic generator in the United States,” Cranston said.

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19 thoughts on “Carma to try again in San Marcos

  1. I would welcome the correct development in this area and this plan IS NOT IT.
    I commend Ryan & Cecil for pointing out the obvious.
    Lot Size as proposed is less than 1/4 Acre per House. I cannot imagine high density housing in semi-rural setting where people like privacy not being on top of thier neighbor and the quiet of evenings.
    The current property values of Willow Creek, MCarty Ranch and Quail Run would be in serious jeapordy. This land is beautiful rolling hill country with thousands
    of trees, deer and wildlife.
    Send Cranston back to his people and tell them to design and propose something similar and retain the balance from others who have developed this area.

  2. I don’t know if the Pitts Cemetery is within this parcel of land or not. But I find it difficult to believe that an archeological study found nothing of interest considering that this area is part of what was once known as Stringtown, one of the earliest communities in Hays County dating back to the 1840s. Not to mention that it is along one of the routes of the Camino Real.

  3. This is a great idea. I live very close to this project, and been saying for years this is what it needs. People will buy houses out there and for sure they will have alot of members signing up for the golf course. Its beautiful land and they will enhance it cant wait

  4. I for one agree we need more housing developments in San Marcos, but before everyone falls in love with this idea you may want to do some research. They are looking at putting over 3427 homes and almost 400 acres of golf course and park space and several acres of commercial, all of this in 1338.5 acres. Please do the math. They will need to go in and clear the entire site because it will be too expensive to save the great trees, put in new trees after it’s development, then they will subdivide. Keep in mind that you will need about 1/4 to 1/2 acre of roads for every 4 houses,you will also need drainage, water, waste water, right a way, and easements. All this will take a huge chunk away from the amount of land that will be left for houses. Buy the time they go to subdivide we will be looking at about 4 – 5 houses PER ACRE.

    Carma also went in front of Planning and Zoning and told the board that “likely to feature a higher end home” and “targeted to families with at least one permanent resident who is 55 or older” Now, can we find 3400 people over the age of 55 who can afford a higher end home wanting to live that close to there neighbors with no room for a small garden?

    Then Carma went in front of the City Council and said “a variety of Paso Robles homes would be offered at prices accessible to different income levels”.

    The city would make a ton of money on this project in property taxes and taxes and fees for the gold course.

    According to ALL my recent research when you build houses this close together after 10 – 20 years they turn into “not so nice” rental properties. Can San Marcos handle this? Will San Marcos have to spend lots of money on this project in the future when everyone desserts this property with the empty lot up-keep? Will this lower the property values for the current homeowners on the southwest side of town? I for one don’t want to find out.

    Carma, please come back with a better thought out development.

  5. JG, i dont agree at all with u. San Marcos needs a new golf course really bad. Quail creek is not cutting it, and their are thousands of players all around including New Braunfels who will be included in this project. The land right now is doing nothing, so lets clear it and build beautiful houses and golf. Take it from somebody who lives out here, carma has a great idea and I for one will be living out there at paso robles. Hunter rd is growing and this will only help and make it beautiful. Bring it on!

  6. CW, apparently you missed my entire point. I would love to have an intelligent and well thought out debate on this issue. Who knows, if Carma would come back with a better thought out development I would sell my Willow Creek home on 1 1/2 acres and down size to an acre and buy on the golf course.

  7. J.G. – Where are you getting that Carma will clear the entire site? Since trees add value I doubt they’ll clear more trees than they have to.

    My understanding is Carma is planning a “cluster” style development with small lots leaving large green areas. Didn’t some council members caution them that Texans want bigger lots? Is there a site plan somewhere that can be viewed?

  8. Phil, do the math. By the time you take out all the acres for golf course, commercial,and roads you are left with roughly 700 total aces for the 3427 homes. You said “cluster” , try dividing 3427 homes by the 700 acres that are left, and this amount would not include land needed for drainage, easements, utilities and right a way. Now, I am all for Carma putting in a development, but I do not believe this would be smart for our up and coming city and county. Small lots in San Marcos or the surrounding areas do not sell. It’s proven. Take a look at the housing development next to Quail Creek. Even though it sits adjacent to the golf course it’s not selling. Then take a drive through Blanco Vista as I did 2 weeks ago.

    They will have to clear the property to be able to put the houses this close together and “cluster” them. It’s too expensive to develop and build around the trees. They will plant new after putting in the necessary utilities and sub-dividing.

    You will need 3427 families, 55 or older, who would have the want, need and desire to live there. Don’t just look at the small picture look at the entire project.

    I would love Carma to come back with some type of executive housing while incorporating the golf course and commercial property. Trust me, with me making my living in Real Estate, if I thought it would sell I would be all for it.

  9. The reason the lots arent selling by quail creek is because nobody with money wants to live on that side of town. Also quail creek does nothing to try and get those houses involved, believe me cause im a member out their. Majority of the members out their live on the southwest part of San Marcos. The word is already spreading out their and I guarantee every member out their will be swithching to paso robles,and 95% of the members are over 55. I think they are wanting to cluster so their will be more open land visible and the wildlife will be seen. Jg i really dont see 3500 homes actually getting built out their, but if carma can make it happen, so be it, and if u decide to move i would love to tee it up with u buddy, overlooking that Texas hill country.

  10. J. G. – A typical subdivision is about 5 lots per acre which includes roads, sidewalks, utilities etc. So at 5/acre you use 685.4 acres leaving 653.1 acres for the golf course and commercial. It’s possible they’re going for an even more dense development of 6 or 7 per acre. For example, the garden homes on Stage Coach (close to Hernandez School) has 29 units on 4.55 acres. That’s 6.37 units per acre. At that density Carma would use 538 acres for the homes. I wonder why you would jump to the conclusion that they “will need to go in and clear the entire site”? It sounds like you may have a concealed agenda. By the way, I don’t find a J.G. Horton on the TREC web site – what area of real estate do you work in?

  11. Typical subdivisions are NOT what CARMA is proposing.
    I guess JG & CW really want to play golf in the GHETTO Take a drive to Blanco Vista. The concept is great yet emigrants are already parking on the grass and doing mechanical work on broken down vehicles in the street

    Here is the future state of your beloved Hill Country.

    In short The City Officials are drinking from the Kool-Aid of Carma.

    JG has the best point of all if it were a smart development he would be buying it.
    Have Carma bring to the table a more responsible plan.
    Because right now they are bringing a HUGE liability. That will destroy current values and a way of life of property owners from South SM to North New Braunfels.

  12. Phil, just exactly how many trees were saved when they built The Gardens at Willow Creek (the development that you are referring to on Stagecoach? All the trees were new and put in after the developer finished. How many trees did Carma leave in the development of Blanco Vista? Go see for yourself.

    As for me not holding a Texas Real Estate License with TREC the last time I checked you did not need a license to make a living off a real estate deal.

  13. The city has a very restrictive land development code, especially as it relates to tree preservation. Clearing the entire tract will not be allowed. Please pardon the suspicious nature of my earlier comment but there are these folks called BANANAs. That stands for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. These people would employ tactics such as posting baseless incendiary remarks designed to build opposition to a project. As for trees at Blanco Vista, there weren’t any to start with. The Gardens @ Willow Creek was built prior to the new land development code.

  14. U cant compare blanco vista to paso robles. Its two different developents. Paso robles is targeting people with money, only emmigrants u will see will be doing landscape work on the golf course. Does anybody know when they will be breaking ground this year?

  15. Say no to any new development. All of these planned subdivision are doomed to fail and all the city will be left with is developments that are 1/4 finished, dissatisfied homeowners, and out-of-business homebuilders. We need to be realisitc about the current markets conditions especially with 1,000s of available homes on the market already. Less is more, in this case.

  16. As far as im concerned, San Marcos is the best kept secret in Texas… the idea of putting in ‘clustered’ housing that will all look the same with a golf course that caters to a very small fraction of the San Marcos population seems silly and completely contradictory to what this city really is. San Marcos is about quality land, air, water and space. San Marcos is about quality living and growing with quality ideas and moral. Keep this sweet area custom fit and give her the respect she’s due. I’d rather see her be developed the right way over a longer period of time, than to be in some rush to jump on the first idea and invester that comes our way. What’s the hurry? I like golf, but I’m not into cutting out the old countryside to put ‘new-fake’ high maintenance countryside in just to play a ‘members only’ game of ‘ball.’ We might as well put an ice skating ring in since we don’t have one!?! Sure it would look nice off of the highway and bring in more money than land does, but what about the idea of something more for the public? (I.E. – parks, green space, museums, outdoor ampitheater/venue.)
    Who are we trying to pack into all this housing anyways? There are too many homes for sale and for rent on the market now…why are we trying to go beyond our means!? With the wonderworld overpass going up, and loosing a bunch of green space to a highway, I feel it’s important to keep in mind that ‘Green’ is what San Marcos is about.

  17. Dak your an idiot. Just dont come out their if u dont like it, or bring ur money so i can take it on the golf course. san marcos is not green, hippie

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