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Council approves RedLeaf as finalist

RedLeaf responsible for high profile projects such as Highland Mall Redevelopment

Post Date:01/11/2019

 (Cedar Park, Texas) Cedar Park City Council voted at their January 10, 2019 Regular Scheduled Meeting to approve City staff’s recommendation of RedLeaf Properties as the City’s Master Developer finalist to transform a portion of Bell Boulevard into a true gateway and destination for the community.  The City and RedLeaf will now enter exclusive negotiations for the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment project.

Prompted by a suggestion by the developer, plans now could call for incorporating the City’s new library as a component of the project.  The vision sparked Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale to issue an amended motion to the plans, garnering unanimous approval by his counterparts on the dais. 

Council’s affirmation of RedLeaf as the finalist represents the next step in a several months-long, multi-step process to procure a master developer and private partner for the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project.  The process began last May, with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ).  Two developers were chosen to respond to an invitation-only Request for Proposals (RFP) in September, in the City’s effort to ultimately determine a sole partner.  A committee comprised of Mayor Van Arsdale, Mayor Pro Tem Anne Duffy and Place Two Council Member Mel Kirkland, with several City staffers, reviewed proposals and ultimately recommended RedLeaf Properties as the finalist to move forward in the negotiation process.  The next steps in the process of negotiating a Master Developer Agreement are expected to take much of 2019. 

The committee recommended RedLeaf because of their strong expression of support for the community’s vision for placemaking within the Bell Boulevard District as the new civic heart for Cedar Park, a community-gathering place for city-wide celebrations, and a destination with a variety of family-friendly activities.  Cedar Park is part of the Austin Metro, located on the north-northwest border of Austin and has been twice named Fourth Fastest-Growing City in the Country by the U.S. Census Bureau in recent years.

Mayor Van Arsdale commented about RedLeaf during the meeting, “One of the things that was striking to all of us is how much time you had spent here.  We could tell you had put a lot into coming out into the community physically and learning about it so it felt more like a relationship and less like a transaction.”

Mayor Pro Tem Duffy said, “The little things stuck out for me … It wasn’t ‘lip service and you were going to check the box’.  You made a point to say that when you were working on Highland you made it a point to meet with the community.” 

Council Member Kirkland said of RedLeaf, “One of the things I liked was hearing about how y’all were coming out to Cedar Park and getting a feel for the community.”

As a master developer and partner with forward-thinking public entities such as cities and educational campuses, RedLeaf is known for creating vibrant, amenity-rich mixed-use communities.  RedLeaf’s developments in Central Texas include serving as the master developer and partner with Austin Community College in a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of Highland Mall in Austin, co-developer for La Frontera Plaza in Round Rock, and master developer for the City of Austin Planning and Development Center in Highland.  In addition, prior to forming RedLeaf, Founder and Principal Matt Whelan was responsible for the $2 billion Mueller Redevelopment while working for Catellus Development Corp.   

During RedLeaf’s presentation, Whelan said, “We embraced the vision that’s been established, 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.” 

RedLeaf Partner Rob Shands added during the presentation, “We look forward to engaging with the community.  It is really important in what we do to listen and continue to learn and we look forward to that process.”

Place Five Council Member Heather Jefts said of RedLeaf’s proposal, “It was very impressive how in-depth you went.  It gave me a very great sense of how you really delved into it and got a sense of what the community said … what we were really looking for.”

Council Member Thomas said, “It’s been a few years coming and just the sheer positive feedback from the citizens, it’s really exciting to see this.” 

Place Four Council Member Mike Guevara said of RedLeaf’s recommendation to possibly include the new public library in the development, “I was really impressed … because they actually integrated it into the park and really made it into an asset.”

Place Six Council Member Dorian Chavez said, “I just want to thank the staff, too – the passion and the effort you put into all of the meetings I think is a direct reflection of how you operate behind the scenes.”

Assistant City Manager Katherine Caffrey said, “We are thrilled about beginning the process of entering this public-private partnership with RedLeaf Properties.  They are an Austin-based real estate developer with a stellar reputation for executing large-scale, multi-phase projects in partnership with public sector entities and fostering productive relationships with stakeholders.  We believe this is key in realizing the Cedar Park community’s shared vision of the great potential for the Bell Boulevard District.”

Caffrey emphasizes that Council’s action represents the beginning of the negotiation process with the end goal of securing a multi-year Master Developer Agreement with RedLeaf Properties. 

What is the Bell Boulevard District?
The Bell Boulevard District is located on Bell Boulevard (US 183), the primary north-south corridor for Cedar Park, between Buttercup Creek Boulevard and Park Street. While the area was once a vital community hub, it has not experienced the same level of economic growth seen in other areas of the city. In 2014, during a city-wide comprehensive planning process, the community expressed strong interest in seeing this area revitalized.  Revitalization of the Bell Boulevard District is a top priority for Cedar Park. The project is backed by a master plan utilizing redevelopment experts from across the nation, thorough financial modeling and forecasting for the public and private sector, and significant public investment in the project thus far.  This area will become a 40-acre mixed-use development featuring retail, restaurant, office and residential space as well as the 12-acre Buttercup Creek Natural Area. The core of the Bell Boulevard District will be a walkable area designed especially for pedestrian traffic. The property poised for redevelopment includes approximately 20 acres of City-owned property and an additional 12 acres of parkland the City also owns.

More information about the Bell Boulevard District may be found at www.DestinationBellBlvd.com.  

About Cedar Park
Cedar Park is a vibrant community situated on the northern border of Austin just 17 miles from downtown.  We are named for an actual park that was a rail stop in the late 1800s and were incorporated as a City in 1973.  True to our namesake Cedar Park now features 47 City parks and 22 miles of trails.  Today’s population is about 79,104 1 and Cedar Park is consistently ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau as one of the Fastest-Growing Cities in the Country.  We’re a bustling high-tech employer hub, too, with a median age of 34.4 years 2, 46.43 percent with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher 2 and a median household income of $99,0252.  

Cedar Park is also home to three professional sports teams: the 2014 Calder Cup-winning AHL Hockey League Champion Texas Stars, affiliates of the NHL Dallas Stars; the 2012 and 2018 NBA G-League Champions, the Austin Spurs and affiliates of the five-time NBA World Champion San Antonio Spurs.  The Stars and Spurs play at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, a City-owned facility is a multi-purpose venue that holds up to 8,700 guests and hosts more than 130 events per year.

Two Fortune 500 companies are major employers in Cedar Park: Dana Corporation and National Oilwell Varco.  Cedar Park is also home and headquarters for several high tech employers including Firefly Space Systems, Fallbrook Technologies, LiveOps, Tolteq and Corvalent, along with industrial manufacturers such as BMC West Materials and BMC Millworks.

National online real estate brokerage firm Movato has named Cedar Park the Fifth Most Desirable Suburb in the Country in terms of amenities, cost of living, education, unemployment, household income, and safety. Movoto has also named Cedar Park the Third Best City to Move to in the Nation, and the Fourth Best Small City for Education in America.  We are one of Family Circle Magazine Ten Best Towns for Families and Forbes Magazine has identified Cedar Park as one of America’s Fastest-Growing Suburbs. Security corporation SafeWise has ranked Cedar Park near the top of its 50 Safest Cities in Texas list, and for several years Cedar Park has had one of the lowest crime rates for cities of its size in Texas according to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s annual Crime in Texas Report. NerdWallet.com has also named Cedar Park the Best City (in the U.S.) to Open a Restaurant.  All of these rankings are independent and unsolicited.

Cedar Park is a city that truly espouses its core values of community, service, innovation, professionalism, integrity, leadership, and fiscal responsibility. These standards are at the heart of daily life for Cedar Park residents, City leaders, City staff, and business leaders.  Visit www.cedarparktexas.gov today to learn more about the City of Cedar Park.

1 Source: City of Cedar Park Development Services Department-Planning Office; 2 Source:  Applied Geographic Solutions