The Turner Behringer development team is seeking city of Waco permission to build 150 homes on land hugging Cameron Park in North Waco.
The Planned Unit Development would spread across 36 acres between Park Lake Drive, Greenwood Drive and Adeline Street, so near 416-acre Cameron Park that developers Shane and Cody Turner and Todd Behringer want to extend the park’s trail system into their community.
The PUD application goes before the Waco Plan Commission at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Waco Convention Center’s Bosque Theater for a recommendation to the Waco City Council. A PUD is a special type of development that is not subject to standard zoning but is tailored to the site in negotiation with city planners, who in this case are recommending approval.
Turner Behringer is pledging to protect trees and views while fashioning a community tucked behind Waco Center for Youth and a short drive from the H-E-B grocery on North 19th Street.
“We loved the proximity to Cameron Park and envisioned a neighborhood with mature trees, varying types of houses and a focus on walkability,” said Jonathan Garza, Turner Behringer director of development. “We want to create a generational neighborhood for those that love the outdoors and appreciate the amenities that Cameron Park has to offer.”
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Project information provided to the Waco Plan Commission depicts a five-phase approach and build-out by fall 2023. Garza said Turner Behringer is “hoping to introduce a variety of housing types and hope to have varying price points for young professionals, creatives, families and empty nesters.”
Garza did not get specific about price points or offer a price range.
Clint Peters, Waco’s director of planning, said developers have met, and continue to meet, with the Cameron Park Neighborhood Association. Peters said some expressed concern about traffic the project would generate. He said city staff instructed Turner Behringer to hire an agreed-upon third party to conduct a traffic study, and to submit findings in its PUD plans.
Jeannine McMeans, president of the neighborhood group, lauded Turner Behringer’s transparency and cooperation during this process.
“What everyone loves about the Cameron Park neighborhood is its diversity and its fantastic rural feel, like living in the country, like living in Crawford,” McMeans said. “Neighbors want to make sure what is happening maintains that sense of rurality. The approach to lighting is important. We have owls, coyotes, cougars and wild pigs migrating across Central Texas.”
McMeans said the association does not want to come across as obstructionists as Waco suffers from housing stock shortages.
“But they’re talking about butting right up against Cameron Park trails with this, and some really do not want people looking into their backyard,” McMeans said. “We have been assured things will transition well.”
She said she appreciates that the PUD will showcase diversity already prevalent within the Cameron Park neighborhood, that lifestyles and price points of most descriptions will have a chance to flourish. Proposed units, she said, include townhomes, smaller residences and estate homes.
But she also issued a challenge to the city of Waco.
The areas around and near H-E-B and Waco Center for Youth “have been woefully neglected,” McMeans said. “But now more than ever it will become a gateway to the city, a gateway from China Spring. What is the city going to create along the rest of 18th Street and 19th Street? A walking area? A biking area? I think the city should become proactive in creating something beautiful, drawing attention to the fact you are coming into another zone. It’s not a business district. Visibly and aesthetically, it’s a parks district.”
Turner Behringer is using Austin-based McCann Adams Studio as it proceeds with the development. The McCann Adams website said it “focuses on designs for new communities, revitalization strategies for existing districts . . . and public space design.”
International work has taken it to Vancouver, Moscow, Manila, London and Paris. Its Austin projects include redevelopment of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport and the Second Street Retail District.
The firm is working with Turner Behringer on a redevelopment of the former Floyd Casey Stadium site featuring 240 housing units.
Peters said the renderings and descriptions he’s seen indicate the project represents high-quality, owner-occupied housing at market rates.
Garza said Turner Behringer will sell lots to local builders, or to individuals who may contract with local builders. Information included in the Turner Behringer packet submitted to the Waco Plan Commission says housing concentration will average 4.2 dwelling units per acre. Public areas, sidewalks and trails will dot the development. Crews will enlarge the pond that receives runoff from about 27 acres.
Larger lots of about 8,000 square feet will congregate near the site’s western edge, nearest Cameron Park, and on the eastern edge, where developers will preserve oak trees.
Developers have counted every tree, literally, as they approach preservation. Nestled there are 24 liveoaks, 12 pecans, two elms, two ash and two large cottonwood trees, according to the information packet.
Lots of 5,000 to 6,000 square feet account for 67 of the 150 lots. Another 34 units will have zero lot lines, meaning they’re right next to each other. Units will have porches and stoops, enhancing the neighborly feel, and each home’s first-floor facade must feature 70% masonry.
Local custom builder Scott Bland said he will visit the site.
“It has some of the best scenery in town, and will appeal very much to empty-nesters and young professionals, which is probably their target audience,” said Bland. “There is very little housing in that category unless it’s loft-type. Not everybody wants to live in a loft, and not everybody wants to buy a home, say, in Castle Heights and refurbish it.”
Bland said homes built on less than a half-acre once were not to be found in Waco, but this development represents natural progression.
“Production builders such as D.R. Horton and Stylecraft, they build on smaller lots and have done very well here,” said Bland. “Lots are getting smaller and smaller, in Austin, in San Antonio, in Houston. Waco is becoming a bigger city. The next step is infill toward downtown. This development fills a need. It suits those coming back into town, those who don’t want to be farther out.”
Behringer formerly owned the 28-acre Ranch at Cameron Park next door to the new development, selling it to the city of Waco in 2020 for $750,000 as an expansion to Cameron Park. A mountain biker himself, Behringer worked with Waco Bicycle Club members to develop the site for recreational cycling during the six years he owned it.