The San Marcos City Council will make a final decision on the controversial potential development at Lindsey Hill, located at the corner of W. Hutchison Street and Moore Street.
The Planning and Zoning Commission denied the developer’s request to change the land’s use from Public District to Planned Development District on April 12. When the issue comes before City Council, the members will have an opportunity to overturn the commission’s decision, but only with a supermajority.
The project would include a 120-room hotel, up to 17,000 feet of retail space and 164 multi-family housing units.
“Our goal at this particular location is to help San Marcos complete the experience of showcasing its most precious and distinctive assets,” said David Lerman, developer of the proposed project.
Lerman said San Marcos is an especially unique location along the IH-35 corridor because communities along the highway contain a lot of necessities, but there is not much variety from one town to the next.
He said creating the concept for Lindsey Hill was an organic process, and inspiration came from the site itself.
“The challenge to anybody who’s considering acquiring this site is to figure out how you create the proper transition and linking experience between downtown and the historic neighborhoods,” Lerman said.
The Lindsey Hill property lies adjacent to the historic district, and many residents have expressed concern as to whether or not the location is suitable for a larger development such as this one.
At Planning and Zoning’s public hearing, concerns over approval of the project were expressed. Detractors cited potential increases in traffic congestion and flooding risks as well as possible damage to the character of historic neighborhoods.
“When the sinkhole hits San Marcos, it will hit international news,” said Lisa Marie Coppoletta, environmental activist.
Ty Stonecipher, water resources management senior, said studies have shown a link between other new developments in the area and increased flooding. He heard about the Lindsey Hill development through Coppoletta, and began working to raise awareness throughout the community.
Stonecipher said although the development would affect San Marcos as a whole, it would especially affect those who live in the historic district. Since college students have little interaction with those residents, he was not surprised at the lack of knowledge on campus.
“That’s one reason I knew a lot of the students hadn’t heard about it,” Stonecipher said. “Because students don’t really check the city meeting minutes, they don’t read too much about the town, and that’s something I would actually like to change.”
Stonecipher said both students and residents of the historic district were very enthusiastic and eager to get involved,.
“You may only live here for three to five years,” Stonecipher said. “But what you do here affects those of us that want to live here for the rest of our lives. There’s a really powerful force just sitting right here, all of these students, and it can be harnessed into something good that’s positive change for the community.”
Another concern raised by those who oppose the development is the structure may be used for student housing. While developers have listed rules to ensure this does not happen, residents agree there will not be a way to monitor the situation.
Although the community sees negative effects the project could have, Stonecipher said there could be some positives as well, such as the developer’s plan to preserve green space and providing the opportunity to bring new businesses to San Marcos.
Those who spoke in support for the Lindsey Hill development said it will help increase walkability, which is also a goal of the developer.
“We’re trying to achieve a walkable community here,” Lerman said. “Of all the places in Central Texas, San Marcos can actually do it because you’ve got some vital components already in place.”
Lerman said it is important for the community to fully understand the project. He said the development team spent 14 months meeting with residents and city officials, and overall the response was positive.
Until the application was officially submitted to the city, Lerman said he didn’t see a large opposition.
If the Lindsey Hill project is denied, the land can still be developed in a different way. Lerman said he is unable to comment about any future plans the company may have.
“This community is your community for now,” Stonecipher said. “And you do have a lasting effect on this community, and you are very important to this community. Your voice matters.”