FROM STAFF REPORTS
NIEDERWALD — Walton Development & Management USA, the North American real estate giant sitting on thousands of acres in Hays and Caldwell counties, has donated right-of-way for a planned re-routing of FM 2001 in northeastern Hays County.
On Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners Court authorized County Judge Bert Cobb to sign an escrow agreement for 17.7 acres that cuts across Walton’s future Camino Real subdivision in and around the tiny city of Niedewald. If the road is not built within five years, the property deed will be returned to holding companies controlled by Walton.
“We appreciate [Walton Development’s] longterm investment and commitment to our community and hope other businesses will follow their lead as we work to create best practices for managing and planning future growth,” Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said.
Straightening FM 2001 between Interstate 35 in Buda and Texas 21 in Niederwald — and rebuilding it as a two-lane road with 10-foot shoulders — is among projects covered by a December 2013 deal between the commissioners court and the Texas Transportation Commission. The state and local governments agreed to share the cost of $123 million in road improvement projects including construction of FM 110, a new 13-plus mile bypass around San Marcos’ eastern side; the addition of shoulders and turn lanes to Ranch Road 12 between San Marcos and Wimberley; and the replacement of the Posey Road interstate overpass near the Premium and Tanger outlet malls.
On the FM 2001 project, the Texas Department of Transportation has committed to paying an estimated $16 million in construction costs and has already allocated that amount for use in 2015, county officials said.
Hays County is paying primarily for FM 2001 prep work including engineering, utility relocation and right-of-way purchase; the county’s share of the FM 2001 work is estimated at $2 million under the county-state agreement. Walton’s donation amounts to more than 15 percent of land the county will need to relocate the road, Jones
A newly rebuilt FM 2001 would serve as a major transportation backbone of the Camino Real development, which Walton intends to build on 1,460 acres it has assembled on the Hays County side of the Hays-Caldwell county line. Walton Development & Management USA is subsidiary of The Walton Group of Companies, a Canadian corporation with U.S. headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz.
““We are seeing a remarkable pace of growth within Central Texas [and] this roadway is an important asset to the economic vitality of our region and our city,” Niederwald Mayor Reynell Smith said.