Cedar Park took the first step June 14 toward adopting uniform building standards on big-box retail projects larger than 75,000 square feet.
Cedar Park City Council held a public hearing June 14 on the proposed guidelines. City staff and the Cedar Park Planning and Zoning Commission have collectively spent five months drafting the standards, Planning Director Rawls Howard said.
The guidelines prevent warehouse-style buildings with no architectural character, Howard said. The standards also require property owners to maintain vacant large-scale retail buildings and build new structures in a way to allow redevelopment if its original use fails.
“If these structures ever go black … and we have to go back and do any infill project, this way the building can be broken up into smaller retail projects,” Howard said.
Owners of existing big-box structures that go vacant would also be required to abide by new standards to maintain properties, he said.
“It's a very noticeable thing in your community, so we have to address blight issues,” Howard said. “We want to ensure that anything that goes black still looks decent.”
The proposed guidelines would also increase landscape standards and improve the appearance of building entrances. In addition, at least 30 percent of parking spaces would have to be located on the sides or behind the main structure. Also, among other requirements, the developer would need to abide by at least five of nine specific facade design styles.
“We didn't want to be too rigid,” Howard said. “We want to be able to work with everyone and be flexible.”
Councilman Stephen Thomas served as Planning and Zoning Commission chairman when city staff first began developing the proposed guidelines.
“[Cedar Park is] one of the few communities that doesn't even have any design standards, so this actually gets us in line with other communities,” Thomas said before the meeting. “This is comparable to other communities in the region.”
A second hearing and possible action could be taken by the council at its June 28 meeting.