Circle C

Circle C Ranch (also known as Circle C) is a large master-planned community in southwest Austin, Texas, USA. Development of Circle C Ranch began in 1982, with the first homes in the community in built in 1986. During development, the subdivision was featured prominently in a long and contentious environmental legal battle regarding urban development in the vicinity of Barton Springs and over Edwards Aquifer. The controversy surrounding its development and later annexation by the city of Austin was a landmark in municipal annexation rights in Texas.

Today, Circle C Ranch includes more than 6,400 homes. Amenities include an 18-hole golf course called the Grey Rock Golf Club, tennis club, four swim centers, a fire station, and more than 500 acres (2.0 km2) of dedicated parkland. The Circle C Swim Center has a year-round, outdoor, Olympic-size heated pool. A second, family oriented swimming pool complex, with office space and meeting rooms, was finished at the end of January 2012. The third pool in the Avana section of Circle C was built in 2014 and opened in 2015. The fourth pool located in the GreyRock section of Circle C opened in 2017.

Development of Circle C Ranch began in 1982 when Gary Bradley, at the time a part-owner of the Schlotzsky’s restaurant chain, and his development partners began to earn development permits and acquire land in southwest Austin, Texas. However, several local environmentalist groups including the Save Our Springs Alliance (SOS) were strongly opposed to the development due to the subdivision’s planned location over the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer. Despite the strong opposition, the first homes in Circle C were built in 1986. In 1988, the Save Barton Creek Association filed a lawsuit against the Texas Highway Department in order to stop the extension of Texas State Highway Loop 1 into southwest Austin and to halt further development of Circle C Ranch. However, the subdivision’s homeowner association was able to defend its rights to the land, and thus development continued.

By 1990, Circle C Ranch was considered the top selling subdivision in Central Texas. However, in the same year, the Gibraltar Savings and Loan bank based in California failed to pay off its debts, and all of its assets were transferred; at the time, this was one of the largest insolvencies in American history. Since the savings and loan company was the source for much of the money and resources involved in the development of Circle C Ranch, the subdivision went bankrupt and entered Chapter 11 reorganization status; reorganization was completed in 1992. Over the following years, several ordinances and lawsuits were filed in relation to Circle C Ranch and its environmental implications, resulting in the creation of the Southwest Travis County Water and Reclamation District in 1996 and the Slaughter Creek Water Protection Zone the following year. However, both the water district and protection zone were found unconstitutional. On December 18, 1997, Circle C Ranch was involuntarily annexed by the City of Austin after roughly 15 years of development.

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