Austin rezoning highlights need for denser developments

City commission triples density for .86-acre lot

Thrower Design’s Victoria Hasse and 6305 Berkman Drive (Getty, Thrower Design, Google Maps)
Thrower Design’s Victoria Hasse and 6305 Berkman Drive (Getty, Thrower Design, Google Maps)

Austin doesn’t have enough housing, but zoning for denser developments could be a solution.

The Austin Planning Commission voted 9-1 to recommend the rezoning of a vacant 0.86-acre lot at 6305 Berkman Drive to allow as many as 34 apartments or condos, the Austin Business Journal reported. The recent rezoning underscores city officials’ general support for denser housing developments along major corridors.

Zoning allows for 10 residential units on the property, located between an existing apartment building and a fire station in the Windsor Park neighborhood. Property owner Lewis Douglas and Austin-based land planning firm Thrower Design requested the highest-density rezoning.

The request for MF-5 zoning would allow five stories, but three stories are planned. The denser category allows for greater lot coverage.

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“Considering all the complexities of the land development code and the needs for housing, we feel that this is a good location for 34 units and we ask for your support,” said Victoria Hasse of Thrower.

Commissioner Greg Anderson was the only member to vote against the rezoning, arguing that the request for larger units wouldn’t create more housing, but it would price some people out of the area.

“When we are talking about brand new construction, if you want to make positively sure that we price out a larger number of people, let’s make sure the units are 30 percent larger than they need to be,” he said. “I don’t think that needs to be what we are doing here at this body. It would be great to allow for smaller, more efficient units that would be more affable to a diverse city of income earners.”

— Victoria Pruitt

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