City leaders put a hold on plans for a new and improved Backyard

Austin
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BEE CAVE, Texas (KXAN) — A major development is now facing major delays in Bee Cave. Plans to revamp The Backyard have been put on hold, as Bee Cave city council members insist they won’t let the project’s developer move forward without providing two entrance and exit points for the venue.

City leaders originally approved revamping the music venue on the condition that its developer, Chris Milam, would provide access to both Bee Cave Parkway and Texas State Highway 71 from the property. The access to Bee Cave Parkway is already in place, but in order to provide access to SH 71, a road would have to be built extending from The Backyard property to the highway.

Milam says he’s unable to put in the connecting road because he’s having trouble getting permission from the landowner who would need to grant an easement. As a result, Tuesday night he asked city council members to approve scaling the project back in exchange for only having one entrance and exit at Bee Cave Parkway.

Milam proposed still building the venue to seat 3,400 people, as originally planned, but promised he would only sell 1,900 tickets per event until he could provide a way to connect to Highway 71.

“When you plan on 3,500 and then you cut it down to 1,900, trying to bring in the big name acts he’s going to, the 1,900 is just not going to pay off,” said Steve Schmidt, who lives in the nearby Ladera subdivision and gave public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.

Schmidt, who serves as his neighborhood’s HOA president, joined other residents in voicing concerns that without access to Highway 71, too many cars would use the Ladera subdivision as a cut-through before and after concert events. They also insisted traffic on Bee Cave Parkway is already too busy and expressed concerns about how emergency officials would respond, should there be an emergency in the area during a major event.

“If there is a need for police or fire, if there’s 1,900 people trying to get in or 1,900 people trying to get out, where are the emergency vehicles going to go?” Schmidt asked.

The city council sided with residents like Schmidt, striking down the proposal in a 3-3 tied vote. A supermajority vote of 5-1 was required to move forward, because neighboring property owners voiced opposition to the proposal.

Milam says he’s spent three years of planning and $50 million on the project, so far. The Backyard — which is slated to be a mixed use development with not only two music venues, but also a hotel, a restaurant, office and living spaces, and data and energy centers — is estimated to be a $500 million project.

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