“Dog’s Head” District at Austin is about to be developed

(Article is from Austin Business Journal, copyright belongs to owner)

An effort to pave the way for future development in the Dog’s Head area of far East Austin has become law.

House Bill 4650 — which creates the East Central Travis County Conservation and Reclamation District No. 1 across 2,100 acres in the Dog’s Head, located between U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 130 — became law June 15.

The creation of the municipal utility district, or MUD, sets the framework for governing the reclamation of the land and financing utility infrastructure. It’s all part of a long-term vision to transform what has long been a sand and gravel mining hub.

According to the report, Endeavor Real Estate Group, developer of The Domain and Southpark Meadows, is eyeing the area for future development. Endeavor Principal Andy Pastor said at the time that the firm was helping the landowning families “figure out what’s next” for the area, which is nearing the end of its useful life for mining purposes.

The Dog’s Head is largely undeveloped. Just a few dirt roads provide access to the nearly 3,000 acres that make up the Dog’s Head, which is dotted with family-owned ranches and mining operations. But with the development of East Austin expanding out to Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park and beyond, the city of Austin has taken a keen interest in shaping future development east of U.S. Highway 183. Tesla’s rising gigafactory, just north of the Colorado River and east of the SH 130 toll road, has only added to the intrigue of the area.

HB 4650 was filed April 19 in the Texas House by District 51 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. It quickly landed on a fast track, and was introduced April 27 before the Texas House Land & Resource Committee. It was voted out of the House 103-42-2 vote on May 14, and passed the Senate 29-2 on May 27. The MUD will be empowered to reclaim and restore the former mine pits and also undertake drainage and flood control projects, water and wastewater projects, the extension of infrastructure, the development of roads and creation of recreational opportunities, among other public improvements.

The district would also be able to issue bonds to finance improvements tied to conservation and reclamation.

One thing the MUD won’t be able to do is invoke the power of eminent domain. A May 14 amendment to the bill explicitly states that the district “may not exercise the power of eminent domain.”

Reached by email earlier this month, Endeavor’s Pastor said the passage of HB 4650 doesn’t change any immediate plans for the real estate firm.

“This is a very long-term project for the families who own the land to position it for future use after the mining is complete and the land reclaimed,” he said.