by BRAD ROLLINS
On the eve of what was to be a final drive for City Hall approval, San Antonio developer Darren Casey abruptly withdrew a package of requests related to the luxury student apartment complex he wanted to build on Sessom Drive.
The San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission had been scheduled to consider Casey’s applications for a planned development district, land use amendment, rezoning request and right-of-way abandonment at its regular meeting this evening. On Monday, however, consultants working for Casey asked that all the requests be taken off the table.
City Manager Jim Nuse and the city planner working the case said they don’t know if the late hour withdrawal means that Casey is abandoning his multi-family plans altogether. But they did say Casey asked that the planned development district and other items be withdrawn outright, not merely delayed.
“On Friday, we heard that he wanted to postpone and on Monday they asked to completely withdraw. I don’t know what this means. I haven’t talked to anyone in his group and I don’t know details,” Nuse said this morning.
Casey has not returned a phone call for comment this morning.
In January, the San Marcos City Council rejected Casey’s plans for an upscale 1008-bed student housing complex with 17,000 square feet of retail space on about 14 acres across Sessom Drive from Texas State University. Since then, he has proposed a succession of scaled down versions with the most recent calling for 743 bedrooms between 332 units.
Planner Alison Brake said Casey’s representatives asked that all four of their pending requests be withdrawn but did not indicate what their next steps would be.
“They withdrew it. That could mean that they have something new in the works. I don’t know one way or the other,” Brake said.
It is also unclear if Casey intends to pull out of the San Marcos market completely. The Texas State alumnus and major donor has previously announced plans for a 316-unit apartment complex on the Thorpe Lane site of the former county hospital as well as the residential/retail Concho Commons mixed use development on Guadalupe Street between Texas State and downtown San Marcos.
Updated 1:36 p.m. Aug. 28:
In a phone interview, Darren Casey said he walked away from his multi-family project because he was being unfairly thwarted by city staff. But, he said, he will move forward with development of the project as a single-family residential subdivision which he says he is already entitled to build.
“We still have every intention of developing that land. City Hall — i.e. the city manager and his staff — has chosen to interpret my project very contentiously. They have different rules for our Sessom project than they do for any other development.
“They basically wrote the staff report in a way where the P&Z commissioners couldn’t vote for it and there was no sense to go through all that nonsense tonight when it had already been voted down via the city manager. In 25 years of doing this, I’ve never experienced a city or a city manager getting involved in this way.
“We’ll continue to evaluate our options and decide what we want to do next,” Casey said.