A unanimous Council vote for a little density

Now this is unusual. Not only did City Council agree unanimously last week to a rezoning that will increase density, but it also opted unanimously to reject a recommendation from the Planning Commission for a density-limiting conditional overlay.

Of course, the property in question is special. As I reported in the Monitor:

At its Dec. 13 meeting, City Council unanimously approved a zoning change that will transform Sekrit Theater into a community of small, eclectic houses.

“I just want to be creative and build something I can be proud of and that my friends and neighbors can be proud of,” said Beau Reichert, the owner of the two-acre property at 1145-1147 Perry Road.

There was no opposition from the Govalle/Johnson Terrace neighborhood plan contact team, led of course by Daniel Llanes, Susana Almanza’s right-hand man. It received plaudits from one of the greatest density skeptics on the dais:

Council Member Leslie Pool expressed enthusiasm about the design envisioned for the new homes.

“I like how they mirror some of the structures that we’ve had in East Austin but that we have maybe lost,” she said. “So that is returning some of that era of structure to our community, so that’s great.”

Planning Commission had recommended applying a conditional overlay to limit the development to 22 units, instead of 24. Because why not?

However, when CM Jimmy Flannigan, who loathes COs, motioned to approve the rezoning without the CO, he surprisingly didn’t get any pushback. Of course, the item was only approved on first reading. There’s still time for “concerns” to emerge.

This isn’t dramatic density, but 24 homes on two acres is still far denser than typical single-family development in Austin. Two acres divided by 24 = 3,630 sq ft, much smaller than the minimum lot size for single-family homes (5,750 sq ft). But the actual lots will be much smaller, considering that much of the two acres will be communal space.

And sadly, much of the space will be dedicated to parking lots because of Austin’s suburban-style parking requirements. If it’s possible, Council or city staff should offer an exemption to the typical requirement that each unit provide two off-street parking spots.

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Sadly, the case against parking requirements on this property is somewhat undermined by the lack of transit nearby. This neighborhood is one part of town that definitely came out worse after Cap ReMap. The nearest bus stop is about 0.8 miles away and going downtown will require a transfer. Perry Rd is off of Bolm, just west of Gardner.

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