by BRAD ROLLINS
Darren Casey, the San Antonio developer who is investing heavily in San Marcos, wants to build an upscale $63 million development on 13.5 acres across Sessom Drive from Texas State University.
With 419 units and a total of 1,001 beds, the as-yet unnamed project would be the latest addition to San Marcos’ apartment boom which shows no signs of slowing. The city council entitled 1,000 units of new apartments last week alone, including another Casey project on the Thorpe Lane site of the old county hospital.
The Sessom Drive project would include more than a token commercial component. Plans call for 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space arranged around a 7,000 square feet stained and polished concrete outdoor commons area. The apartments would be spread between two buildings connected by a skybridge spanning the development’s entrance.
Casey and Carter Morris, the real estate broker on the deal, say the Sessom Drive development would be a class above any other on the ground — or on the drawing board — in San Marcos.
“It will be a destination. It will look like no other development in San Marcos. … The rents will probably be the highest in town,” Morris said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission at its regular meeting tonight is scheduled to consider a planned development district to replace the properties’ existing single-family zoning. Ahead of that vote, Morris and ETR Development Consulting has been meeting with neighbors of the five homeowners whose properties are under contract for purchase by Darren Casey Interest Inc.
Under the proposed PDD, Casey will donate 4.5 acres which adjoin other unbuildable hillside lots for the core of new neighborhood park. The plan also calls for closing Loquat Street to prevent residents of the new development from cutting through the Ridgeway/Hillcrest neighborhood.
Enviornmental leaders have already tendered concerns about a large-scale development on a steep hillside overlooking Sessom Creek, which feeds in to the San Marcos River headwaters at Spring Lake.
Morris said Casey has agreed to suggestions from environmentalists that the detention pond and roads be built before any of the buildings to contain runoff during construction. The developer will use three types of silt control to avoid pollution of the creek, Morris said.
Dianne Wassenich, executive director of the San Marcos River Foundation, said recent reconstruction of Sessom Drive and its stormwater runoff facilities caused extensive sedimentation pollution to the river via Sessom Creek as has various Texas State construction projects over the years.
“So we know that it’s really tough to not pour dirt into the river when you do something along that creek. We’re pretty worried about construction there but we’re hopeful this can be worked out and done correctly,” Wassenich said.
Wassenich said she was encouraged by Casey’s commitment to build the site to hold up to 24 hours worth of rainfall from a 100-year flood. She said, “I’m not as concerned about after the project is built as far as pollution goes. I’m more concerned about during the construction.”
The property’s ideal location so near Texas State makes the extra investment for environmental protection worth spending, Morris said. The property is directly across the street Texas State’s $46 million North Campus Housing Complex under construction now.
“It’s probably one of the best locations in the country for a development like this. It’s very hard to acquire 14-plus acres across the street from a major university and Texas State has become a major university,” Morris said. Texas State University’s enrollment hit 34,113 this fall.
Sean Batura contributed reporting for this story.Email | Print