by BRAD ROLLINS
An apartment developer looking to build student housing on part of Cape’s Camp has sweetened his pitch to the city, roughly doubling the amount of riverfront acreage he says he’s willing to donate as a park.
What’s being proposed
Athens, Ga.-based Dovetail Development wants to build a 306-unit apartment complex called The Woodlands on a portion of 45 acres owned by the Thornton and Stokes families on the north bank of the San Marcos River, just east of Interstate 35.
As part of a deal that includes the zoning and land use entitlements he needs from City Hall, Dovetail Development’s Dave Mulkey has proposed transferring ownership of about 20 acres nearest the river to the municipal government for parkland. The proposed gift is more than six times the 3.21 acres of parkland dedication that would be required under city development ordinances.
The donation would include 10 acres that make up most of Thompson’s Islands as well as uninterrupted river frontage on the north side of the river running the length of the tract. The proposed park adjoins 4.6 acres the state of Texas already owns and the city of San Marcos operates as Stokes Park, the only legal public point of entry into the river in eastern San Marcos.
The developer’s initial proposal to develop 39 acres of the land — before the company had an option to buy the Stokes tract — included about 11 acres of public parkland. But the plan also would have cordoned off four acres alongside the river as a private retreat for the apartment complex’s residents.
The original proposal with its exclusive river park rubbed some residents the wrong way and helped fuel public support for the city to purchase all of land the Thorntons own on both sides of the river. The family’s holdings constitute, by far, the largest privately owned property remaining along the river in the city limits.
In the Nov. 6 general election, San Marcos voters will be asked whether they think the city should attempt to purchase the property — including through the use of eminent domain if its owners won’t sell.
In a briefing of San Marcos City Council members on Tuesday, City Manager Jim Nuse said an independent appraisal commissioned by the city valued 38.54 acres owned by the Thorntons on the north side of the river at $2,938,000 and 31.25 on the south side at $2,518,000. The Thorntons’ landholdings along that portion of the river reportedly total about 98 acres.
Also at its regular meeting, the council authorized its staff to put up for sale land the city owns near the Hays County Civic Center off Clovis Barker Drive. Called the Leah Tract, the property — or proceeds from the sale of the property — are restricted for use for public parks. San Marcos officials have suggested money from the sale of the Leah tract could be applied to buying Cape’s Camp.
A day after San Marcos residents cast ballots in the nonbinding referendum, the city council is scheduled to consider Dovetail’s proposed planned development district, including the park land dedication and rezoning of the property from a placeholder “Future Development” designation to one that allows multi-family residential housing.
Presentation to San Marcos City Council on Sept. 18 on current proposal for The Woodlands at San Marcos.