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Cedar Park Chooses Bell Blvd Master Developer

(Credit: City of Cedar Park)

 

Cedar Park City Council voted at their January 10, 2019 Regular Scheduled Meeting to approve City staff’s recommendation of RedLeaf Properties as the City’s Master Developer finalist to transform a portion of Bell Boulevard into a true gateway and destination for the community.  The City and RedLeaf will now enter exclusive negotiations for the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment project.

 

Following a discussion about RedLeaf’s recommendation that the City consider incorporating the new public library into the development as a community hub, Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale made an amended motion.  It authorizes the City Manager to begin negotiating the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with RedLeaf, with the possible inclusion of  the new library within the Bell Boulevard District.  The amended motion was seconded by Place One Council Member Stephen Thomas.  The vote was unanimous. 

 

Council’s affirmation of RedLeaf as the finalist represents the next step in a several months-long, multi-step process to procure a master developer and private partner for the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project.  The process began last May, with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ).  Two developers were chosen to respond to an invitation-only Request for Proposals (RFP) in September, in the City’s effort to ultimately determine a sole partner.  A committee comprised of Mayor Van Arsdale, Mayor Pro Tem Anne Duffy and Place Two Council Member Mel Kirkland, with several City staffers, reviewed proposals and ultimately recommended RedLeaf Properties as the finalist to move forward in the negotiation process.  The next steps in the process of negotiating a Master Developer Agreement are expected to take much of 2019. 

 

The committee recommended RedLeaf because of their strong expression of support for the community’s vision for placemaking within the Bell Boulevard District as the new civic heart for Cedar Park, a community-gathering place for city-wide celebrations, and a destination with a variety of family-friendly activities.  Cedar Park is part of the Austin Metro, located on the north-northwest border of Austin and has been twice named Fourth Fastest-Growing City in the Country by the U.S. Census Bureau in recent years.

 

Mayor Van Arsdale commented about RedLeaf during the meeting, “One of the things that was striking to all of us is how much time you had spent here.  We could tell you had put a lot into coming out into the community physically and learning about it so it felt more like a relationship and less like a transaction.”

 

Mayor Pro Tem Duffy said, “The little things stuck out for me … It wasn’t ‘lip service and you were going to check the box’.  You made a point to say that when you were working on Highland you made it a point to meet with the community.” 

 

Council Member Kirkland said of RedLeaf, “One of the things I liked was hearing about how y’all were coming out to Cedar Park and getting a feel for the community.”

 

As a master developer and partner with forward-thinking public entities such as cities and educational campuses, RedLeaf is known for creating vibrant, amenity-rich mixed-use communities.  RedLeaf’s developments in Central Texas include serving as the master developer and partner with Austin Community College in a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of Highland Mall in Austin, co-developer for La Frontera Plaza in Round Rock, and master developer for the City of Austin Planning and Development Center in Highland.  In addition, prior to forming RedLeaf, Founder and PrincipalMatt Whelan was responsible for the $2 billion Mueller Redevelopment while working for Catellus Development Corp.   

 

During RedLeaf’s presentation, Whelan said, “We embraced the vision that’s been established, creating a gathering place, a destination that will be a social hub and contribute to the sense of identity for the City of Cedar Park.  It’s an ambitious project but we believe that is achievable with proper planning, a long-term approach, and strong partnership.” 

 

RedLeaf Partner Rob Shands added during the presentation, “We look forward to engaging with the community.  It is really important in what we do to listen and continue to learn and we look forward to that process.”

 

Place Five Council Member Heather Jefts said of RedLeaf’s proposal, “It was very impressive how in-depth you went.  It gave me a very great sense of how you really delved into it and got a sense of what the community said … what we were really looking for.”

 

Council Member Thomas said, “It’s been a few years coming and just the sheer positive feedback from the citizens, it’s really exciting to see this.” 

 

Place Four Council Member Mike Guevara said of RedLeaf’s recommendation to possibly include the new public library in the development, “I was really impressed … because they actually integrated it into the park and really made it into an asset.”

 

Place Six Council Member Dorian Chavez said, “I just want to thank the staff, too – the passion and the effort you put into all of the meetings I think is a direct reflection of how you operate behind the scenes.”

 

Assistant City Manager Katherine Caffrey said, “We are thrilled about beginning the process of entering this public-private partnership with RedLeaf Properties.  They are an Austin-based real estate developer with a stellar reputation for executing large-scale, multi-phase projects in partnership with public sector entities and fostering productive relationships with stakeholders.  We believe this is key in realizing the Cedar Park community’s shared vision of the great potential for the Bell Boulevard District.”

 

Caffrey emphasizes that Council’s action represents the beginning of the negotiation process with the end goal of securing a multi-year Master Developer Agreement with RedLeaf Properties.

 

What is the Bell Boulevard District?
The Bell Boulevard District is located on Bell Boulevard (US 183), the primary north-south corridor for Cedar Park, between Buttercup Creek Boulevard and Park Street. While the area was once a vital community hub, it has not experienced the same level of economic growth seen in other areas of the city. In 2014, during a city-wide comprehensive planning process, the community expressed strong interest in seeing this area revitalized.  Revitalization of the Bell Boulevard District is a top priority for Cedar Park. The project is backed by a master plan utilizing redevelopment experts from across the nation, thorough financial modeling and forecasting for the public and private sector, and significant public investment in the project thus far.  This area will become a 40-acre mixed-use development featuring retail, restaurant, office and residential space as well as the 12-acre Buttercup Creek Natural Area. The core of the Bell Boulevard District will be a walkable area designed especially for pedestrian traffic. The property poised for redevelopment includes approximately 20 acres of City-owned property and an additional 12 acres of parkland the City also owns.

More information about the Bell Boulevard District may be found at www.DestinationBellBlvd.com

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