CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Cedar Park took another step forward this week to redeveloping a 52-acre area along Bell Boulevard.
On Thursday night the City Council picked RedLeaf Properties of Austin as its choice for master developer and private partner. The city manager will now work the rest of the year to hammer out an agreement.
City leaders shared their excitement Friday about RedLeaf’s involvement with the project.
“Their Highland Mall redevelopment project is really noteworthy, and then the previous projects that were done by [Matt Whelan, RedLeaf’s founder and principal] while he was with Catellus [Development Corporation] are also noteworthy. The Mueller [Redevelopment] is one of the nation’s top developments,” Assistant City Manager Katherine Caffrey said.
“To get somebody with that type of experience and commitment to vision to do a project in the suburbs is really exciting,” she added. “We’re appreciative of their interest in the project, but we also think we’ve got a pretty good project for them.”
Plans call for the Bell Boulevard District to include 40 acres of mixed-use space featuring shops, restaurants, offices and housing. The city plans to preserve another 12 acres for a park called the Buttercup Creek Natural Area.
“I think it’s going to make the central part of Cedar Park revitalized and something that people are going to want to go to,” Caffrey said.
Rob Shands, a partner at RedLeaf Properties, shared the following statement Friday about his firm’s involvement:
“We are honored to have been selected by Cedar Park. We embrace the vision that’s been established by the community, 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. We look forward to building upon the community’s vision and delivering a project that we will all be proud of.”
Over the years the city has bought up property on Bell Boulevard between Buttercup Creek Boulevard and Park Street, preparing to clear it out for this development. Existing shopping areas, like the one that houses the popular Moonie’s Burger House, are set to be demolished in the coming years.
Danica Meyer, the general manager at Moonie’s, doesn’t want customers to worry, though. The restaurant is planning to relocate in the next two to three years. Despite the move, she’s looking forward to the impact that the redevelopment will have on the area.
“We have a small business,” Meyer said. “The more people that we bring to Cedar Park, it helps everyone out.”
Across the street from Moonie’s, business owners, like Emily King of Tiaras & Tea Parties, will have until the end of the year to leave their shopping center. She said it’s her understanding that the building will eventually be leveled and become part of the new park.
“We may end up having to close our doors, or we may end up moving,” King said. “With the price of Cedar Park kind of rising, the cost of living, it makes finding a new place a little difficult, so we may look at moving further out towards the Liberty Hill area.”
The City of Cedar Park has already been working to move Bell Boulevard eastward to make room for this development. City leaders expect road construction to begin in late 2019 and last about 18 months, but traffic should not be affected too much during that time.
“The 50,000-plus cars a day that drive on this section of Bell Boulevard will get to continue driving on this road while construction is happening just slightly to the east,” Caffrey said, “so then one day the road will switch over. We think that has a real benefit to the mobility and the growth we’ve had, and we’re really conscious of that.”
The City Council also agreed Thursday night to consider incorporating a new public library into the development, which city leaders are billing the new “civic heart” for Cedar Park.