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 tract 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 (BCP).
The Reserve at Lake Austin sits on about 11 acres of land directly next to the BCP's 34-acre "Carol Lee Preserve." Construction started in early 2020 and was completed in early 2023. To review the city-approved Hill Country Roadway site plan, click here. To see the approved engineer renderings, click here.
Rendering that shows smaller footprint of upcoming senior living facility (in black) versus now-abolished plans for an apartment complex (in red) on The Reserve at Lake Austin property, formerly known as Champion Tract 3