San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 13th, 2014
P&Z to get first look at Carsons’ proposed downtown mid-rise

Fast Facts | Mid-rise at Hutchison, Edward Gary

The proposal: A nine-floor mid-rise with an inner courtyard and a three-level parking garage concealed from view of the street by the building. Proposed uses break down like this:

Retail and restaurant space 4,000 square feet
Outdoor patio, commons area 1,250
Community center 3,250
Residential 95 units, 344 beds

The developer: John David Carson, a principal of San Marcos-based Carson Properties

The next step: The San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission will consider Carson’s request for a “warrant,” which would allow the building to reach nine floors


9 a.m. WEDNESDAY JAN. 15: The San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday evening to table consideration of the Carson downtown mid-rise proposal until its next meeting on Jan. 28.



San Marcos-based Carson Properties is angling to build a nine-floor, mixed-use downtown landmark, but first the company needs planning commissioners to sign off on the building’s height.

The mid-rise would replace single-floor buildings on three tracts of land currently occupied by the Cedars and Eskimo Hut restaurants and by the Triple Crown, a venerable hole-in-the-wall bar and live music venue. The building’s footprint does not include the Yellow Store property, a landmark in its own right that sits on the Hopkins Street end of the same city block.

The three properties are zoned “T5 – Urban Center,” the highest level of density allowed under the SmartCode development ordinance adopted in April 2011 for the Central Business District. The code generally restricts buildings to five floors but states that “additional height is appropriate in the downtown context when not adjacent to the Square or other sensitive site.”

At its regular meeting Jan. 14, the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to consider granting a “warrant” that would allow Carson Properties to build up to nine stories. Under the SmartCode, a warrant differs technically from a waiver but is functionally similar — over-riding the letter of the ordinance by formally determining that a proposal upholds its spirit or intent.

Carson Properties’ proposal would provide “needed residential density in downtown to support the 2008 Downtown Master Plan’s vision of a dense, vibrant 24/7 urban center,” city planner Emily Koller wrote planning commissioners in a report recommending they approve the developers’ request for a warrant.

“As a large mixed use residential project in the transition area between campus and downtown, it will help to meet the housing demand created by the university in a way that offers an opportunity to live a car-free lifestyle without negatively impacting surrounding properties. The project … is characteristic of compact, pedestrian-oriented mixed use development that the SmartCode encourages,” Koller writes.


City planners’ analysis of Carson proposal [pdf]

Carson downtown mid-rise site plan [pdf]

Carson downtown mid-rise artists’ renderings [pdf]

CORRECTION: This story originally referred to the Carsons’ proposed development project at Hutchison and Edward Gary as a high-rise. Though classifications vary, a high-rise is most often defined as a building more than ten floors high. A mid-rise is generally considered to be five to 10 floors.

Email Email | Print Print


17 thoughts on “P&Z to get first look at Carsons’ proposed downtown mid-rise

  1. The only unanswered question that is raised by the Planning Dept. report is the inability of the fire dept. to fight a fire above 6 stories. How significant is this factor in the construction of the project? Are there buildings on the TSU campus that exceed six stories? If so, what is the fire plan for those stories above six floors? Are there special fire suppression measures that can be taken on the floors above six that will be sufficient to protect the lives of residents?

    If these questions can be satisfactorily answered, there don’t seem to be any significant health, safety, and welfare matters that would preclude the project.

  2. The Texas State library is 7 floors, the administration building on campus is 11, and the Embassy Suites is around that as well.

  3. Didn’t the fire department just get a 100 + foot ladder truck? That should be able to handle 9 stories, or am I mistaken?

  4. Looks good to me. The only problem I have is 344 beds and I don’t see mention of how many parking spaces they’ll have. I promise you, for all the talk of walkability, etc, each of those beds will equate to a vehicle – a giant 4-door, lifted, loud-exhaust pickup with a thumping stereo.

  5. Not on subject, so I apologize upfront. Many of you know that for some time the residents in the Settlement and Fox Ridge opposed Lazy Oaks, a proposed development located on the most pristine and sensitive area of the Edwards Recharge zone. The neighbors made their case that the development was not appropriate for the area but few at the city and even fewer at the county cared. Ultimately, the developer of LO made deals for buffers of trees that would be left intact. No question about it, there would be buffers. Sadly, the developer either lied or his chosen engineering firm couldn’t read the agreement that the develop made. One of our neighbors is now looking at a field of fallen trees. It should surprise no one that the developer and their engineers accidentally clear cut the property this week. The engineering company said it was a failure of the engineering division not properly communicating with the environmental division. “It was an accident”. This is the kind of stuff that pretty well proves that neither the city or county has shown the fortitude to stand up to any developers. In the end, the developer welched on the deal he made, just like it was said that he would.

  6. But wait….if Lazy Oaks is bad because it’s in the “most pristine and sensitive part of the Edwards Recharge Zone”…..and it’s also right next door to existing developments…..doesn’t that mean that the existing developments are ALSO in the “most pristine and sensitive part of the Edwards Recharge Zone”???

    For all the talk about not wanting this development next to them, I sure don’t see the property owners at Fox Ridge or the Settlement volunteering to leave their homes and move away from this “ecological treasure” of an area.

    I guess they figured the environmental argument would play better in public than the NIMBY one, eh?

  7. Dano, I will not resort to the age old famous SNL, Jane…. You know the rest. The adjoining property is near, not in the same recharge, karst featured area. It is 5-20 acre and even greater properties. The proposal will be more like four houses to an acre. I didn’t identify this area as pristine habitat that should never be developed, the developer did when he was trying to sell it to the county.. It is extremely rural. The only cutting we have done is to remove small growth cedar to help return the land to what it was many years ago. Next to our area the adjoining ranch is probably one of the largest in central Texas. Everyone is taking care of their property except the developer who hires expensive engineering firms who “accidentally” clear cut about fifty acres of land that was to serve as a buffer. The developer made agreements what he would not do and the first thing it does is break agreements. Dano, you like to be obnoxious for obnoxious sake so please find a conversation where it is relevant.

  8. Charles, face it, you don’t want this new development in your back yard, thus the negative portrayal of the developer and their engineering firm. They did not clear cut fifty acres – you need to get your facts right. They cut down around 25 cedar trees, which in my book is not a clear cut or a bad thing with the cedar pollen at an all time high. San Marcos needs good developments and neighborhoods and from what I’ve seen this development will be both of those. San Marcos is trying to bring in new businesses yet has no place for these people to live. We have a housing shortage in this town and I’m not talking about apartments. Just be honest with yourself and others when you bad mouth the development – I don’t want it in my backyard even though I live right next door!!!

  9. The construction of a building of this height will start with a great big hole. Seeing as how the developer is not interested in the Yellow Store, will there be any special precautions during the construction phase to make sure that the underground gas tanks at the yellow store don’t leak? I am not saying that this issue should stop development – I happen to believe that higher density downtown development is the way to go – but I do think that there has to be some monitoring in place. I am not an engineer, but it seems like blasting and digging a hole this size will impact the surrounding structures including foundations and gas tanks. And with the proximity to the river, the developers need to provide effective construction practices so that runoff from this large structure doesn’t end up as silt in the San Marcos River.

  10. BTW, the County says it was 50 acres, not 25 trees. It was +/- 225 feet, at least 100’s of trees in the buffer but then again since Mary knows nothing her comments mean nothing. Such a waste of time that anonymity creates.

  11. No Charles, I’m not a realtor, just someone who knows more about what’s going on in the community than most. What do you mean by +/- 225 feet? Was that the length of the cut or the width or both? Last time I checked an acre of property was 208 feet x 208 feet or approximately 43,560 square feet. Your telling me they cut down trees on 50 acres or approximately 2,178,000 square feet of property. If this was two acres wide it be 5200 feet long or 1 mile. I would love to know who from the county told you this. Someone needs to get their facts correct and it’s not me.
    Remind me again what side you were on with the Sessoms street project. Ok there, but not in your backyard?

  12. There are few forces in nature quite as forceful as the denial of the NIMBY crowd’s “true” motivation behind the opposition of a development project……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *