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