The Lake Austin Collective (LAC) and area neighbors breathed a sigh of relief in November 2019 when the City of Austin approved final plans to build a senior living facility and wildlife preserve on the 45-acre Solera Reserve, formerly and infamously known as Champion Tract 3. The City’s final blessing put to rest an embattled history that for years pitted neighbors against City Council and its opaque rezoning processes.
In November 2016, City Council approved waivers to the Hill Country Roadway and Lake Austin Watershed Ordinances so that developers could build a controversial and massive apartment complex on the property, a known habitat for the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler. Within months, LAC sued the City for violating the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA). The LAC lawsuit detailed how the City failed to properly notify the public about its intentions to grant these waivers in its agenda postings. A year later, LAC won the lawsuit, but the City appealed. In early December 2019, the 14th Court of Appeals sided with LAC.
During the year that LAC awaited the higher court's decision, Austin entrepreneur Jonathan Coon entered the picture. He met numerous times with LAC leaders and area neighbors and offered to buy Champion Tract 3 and to combine some of its development rights with the Camelback PUD, a 45-acre property he and his wife, Kirsten, already owned less than a half mile away. Under Coon's aegis, both properties would be developed with far less density than permitted by the City, and would include plans for donated parkland and eventually, even a wildlife preserve.
LAC and more than seven area neighborhoods enthusiastically supported Coon's unprecedented solution and rallied behind him at City Hall during many council and commission hearings.
After finally receiving council and and commission approvals in early 2019, Coon bought Champion Tract 3 and immediately partnered with Solera Senior Living and HPI Commercial Real Estate Services to build a substantially smaller and quieter senior living facility and to donate three-fourths of the land to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (see below story on Carol Lee).
The future Solera Reserve Senior Living Facility will sit on about 10 acres of land directly next to the Carol Lee Preserve. Construction started in early 2020 and is expected to conclude by 2021. To review the city-approved Hill Country Roadway site plan, click here. To see the approved engineer renderings, click here.
DETAILS for FEB 2020 EVENT COMING SOON!
For many years until she passed away in September 2018, Carol worked tirelessly to promote safe and environmentally responsible land development in our 2222 Hill Country corridor. She volunteered countless hours for various civic organizations and in the early 2000s, joined her dear friend Marceline Lasater in co-founding the Lake Austin Collective.
One of her greatest and final gifts to our community, however, may be the efforts she undertook to ensure almost 34 acres of Solera Reserve's undeveloped land be turned into a wildlife preserve. Shortly after Carol's passing, local entrepreneur and area neighbor Jonathan Coon generously donated this land to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP), a program within Austin Water's Wildland Conservation Division, which oversees a vast land portfolio of more than 13,600 acres.
In honor of Carol's resolute spirit, the preserve bears her name and is undergoing restoration so that the land will serve as an ideal habitat for federally protected and endangered species, including the golden-cheeked warbler.
In October 2020, Austin Water Balcones Canyonlands Preserve Program notified the Lake Austin Collective it had officially adopted the Carol Lee Preserve. The preserve is not a public park but a nature preserve with guided hikes and volunteer opportunities that can be found at www.austintexas.gov/wildlandevents.
If you would like more information on the BCP, please email BCP Program Manager Nico Hauwert at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tentatively scheduled for 2021
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