An aerial view rendering of the proposed Concho Commons development on the north end of downtown San Marcos.
By SEAN BATURA
Against objections from a downtown parking advisory board, the San Marcos City Council recently approved an amended plan for the Concho Commons project that now calls for 39 residential units on the north edge of downtown.
Casey Development, Ltd., had intended its Concho Commons project on 1.46 acres near Concho Street and LBJ Drive to provide shops, restaurants, services and office space. But the developer went back to the council this month with an amended plan to add 39 residences.
The council approved the amended plan by unanimous vote on first reading at its Dec. 16 meeting. The matter will return to the council for a second and final reading next Tuesday.
Though the developer’s amended plan provides for more parking, critics warn that because the land development code for the area specifies 54 parking spaces more than the 151 planned for the development, there will be overflow into the university’s parking and into downtown.
San Marcos Downtown Parking Advisory Board Chair Kyle Maysel told city councilmembers at the Dec. 16 meeting that the overflow parking he anticipates from Concho Commons as currently proposed cannot be absorbed by downtown and the university.
“This project is good, it’s desirable, we want that up there,” said Maysel. “Everybody wants a project built there, but they want it built responsibly. They want enough parking up there so that nobody else has to absorb the deficit. There are many ways that staff parking could be addressed, that commercial vehicles, service vehicles, could be accommodated here. This project could be built in a number of ways. But to maximize the building (size) so that they can maximize profit, they’re willing put their problems on everybody else.”
ETR Consulting’s Ed Theriot, who spoke on behalf of the developer, said the residential units will entail a reduction in commercial square footage from 37,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet. The amended project calls for an additional deck of parking for the building and 17 new streetside parking spaces that will not be counted towards the developer’s total spaces. The amended project entails 76 parking spaces for commercial use, 75 parking spaces for residents. The project also calls for 78 bicycle storsge units (52 single or 26 double) and 24 open public bicycle racks in the lower parking deck.
“In Austin, the parking requirements for this project would be 121 spaces,” Theriot said. “In San Antonio, it would be 126. I realize there are differences from downtown Austin and downtown San Antonio, but we feel we are more than adequately parked for a downtown pedestrian-oriented type development such as this.”
San Marcos Planning Director Matthew Lewis told councilmembers that the Concho Commons building would not cause an overflow of parking because students already parked on campus would frequent the businesses located in the building, and because street parking would be created by the developer.
Lewis also said the building’s commercial component would have a “built-in customer base” in the form of on-site residents. Lewis said the parking regulations in the central business district and on the fringe of the city should be less stringent.
“Our current codes are overparked,” Lewis said. “We are analyzing that to make sure we can accurately meet the community needs.”
The front of the Concho Commons building is proposed to face Concho Street. Theriot said the proposed Concho Commons building would not entail the relocation of existing eating establishments on the block, such as the Taco Bell and the Chipotle.
The building’s two story parking structure will face south, towards downtown. Councilmember John Thomaides asked Theriot if there would be some measures taken to make the side of the building facing downtown more attractive.
“There will be trees planted in between the parking deck and the structure and we’re looking at the feasibility of some kind of planter facilities on the parking deck, although that’s challenging,” replied Theriot.
Theriot said there will be “extensive streetscaping” along Guadalupe Street, Concho Street, and LBJ Drive, to include trees and benches, among other items.
“I think it’s going to add so much to that area that we need,” said outgoing Councilmember Pam Couch as the council considered the project at her final meeting. “We talk a lot about ‘work, live, play,’ and this is just what we need here. We’re moving forward to what we’re hoping to see in our downtown.”Email | Print
This is exciting. While during this economic time I don’t think we really need this, I can look into the future and see that San Marcos is still expanding. We just have to make sure that we are bringing jobs into the city so that people can afford to live here! Right now, one of the reasons that the city is expanding is because the University is expanding but students usually can’t afford this type of housing and graduates don’t have job-incentives to stay here.
As for the main point of this piece, the parking, I think that Theriot highlighted it well, we are requiring more parking than either Austin or San Antonio. While we are neither of these cities, we have been spoiled to have so many parking spaces as it is, and less parking with a smart concentration of residential and commercial space centralized, we can create a more pedestrian friendly city.
On that note, a word to the council- fix our sidewalks! The square is amazing with the pedestrian countdown traffic signs but there are places central to downtown and campus where sidewalks just stop or are completely broken. While development is going to start “soon” on Guadalupe near Concho on the E side, the sidewalk is completely broken (and has been for years). Between Woods and Pat Garrison on Comanche, the sidewalk is spotty, at best. With 30,000 students walking these streets between campus and downtown and 30,000 more residents in San Marcos, you would think that this would be higher up on the city council’s agenda.
Every year, a new city council election starts and every year we ask for better sidewalks and bikepaths….
What happened to the weather entry on the San Marcos website (Favorites)?
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really? San Marcos needs more apartments? Parking downtown, as it is, discourages downtown shoppers and now the city council thinks its a good idea to add more residences? Why establish a parking advisory board if they are not going to be listened to? and about those sidewalks, in San Marcos, sidewalks are a JOKE! They stop and start in various places with no planning what so ever! Just one of many examples – Look at the mess in front of the bus station – the sidewalk only exists right in front. Take a few steps from the station and you’re in the street. Of course, the mayor is having her sidewalk around her office re-done. Its shameful since the sidewalk ends at the corner – it doesn’t even REACH the City of San Marcos sign across the street.