Preserving History

Mary Hooper |
Source: Austin Business Journal

For the small city of Sunset Val­ley, located southwest of Austin, it was important to preserve a legacy on the site of the Sunset Valley Homestead Shopping Center.

Since 1945, the late owners, John and Charlotte Weaver, had owned the property, which included a 9,000-square­foot barn and a 2,500-square-foot house facing Brodie Lane.

“Part of the city’s approval of the proj­ect was that the barn remain,” says Cindy Kohler, project man,ager at Walters South­west. “The barn has played such a histori­cal role in the city of Sunset Valley.”

The homestead tract was part of nearly 300 acres originally owned by the Weavers. Development began on the property in the 1990s.

In developing the final piece of the Sunset Valley estate, it was important to the city and developers to keep new additions compatible with the house and barn.

As Endeavor Real Estate Group and Walters Southwest developed the 30-acre property, they worked with the existing structures to create a 160,000-square-foot retail destination.

In demolishing other existing structures on the property, stone was saved to use in the 2,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion.

“We wanted to [use} that stone through­out the center, in signage and in building architecture. We looked for how we fit into the already existing architectural theme,” says Jeff Newberg, manag­ing principal at Endeavor Real Estate Group.

The pavilion also includes seating and crushed granite trails. The trails wind around the property, encouraging pedestrian circu­lation through the property and linking up to the trail system in Sunset Valley.

Maintaining the theme meant installing upgrades, such as metal roofs and pavers in the crosswalks, Newberg says.

Extensive landscaping was also incor­porated, including bringing in mature oak trees around the property.

Construction began on the shopping center in mid-2006. Babies “R”Us opened in May 2007, with the majority of tenants open for business by December 2007. Kohl’s, which has been in place since 2001, DSW, Ulta, Petsmart, and a variety of res­taurants including Which Wich?, Juan’s Mexicali and Cosi, are all part of the shop­ping center.

In addition, 40,000 square feet is occu­pied by local tenants, including restaurants such as Zen and Doc’s Backyard.

“We are excited about the mix of res­taurants, and the quality of tenants,” says Newberg. “We wanted to fit into the market that had been established.”

“The biggest challenge was to find a lay­out and architectural design that met the desires of the community,” he adds. “We worked closely with [city officials] and in­vited input on architecture and physical layout of the center.”

The shopping center is also adjacent to the Sunset Valley Village Shopping Cen­ter, which includes Barnes & Noble and World Market.

While keeping with the history of the property, however, several modern ad­vances were added in water-quality con­trols.

Adding to the aesthetic and functional amenities of the shopping site are wet ponds and bioretention ponds, which func­tion as soil and plant-based filtration de­vices that remove pollutants from runoff through a variety of processes.

A rain harvesting system, which cap­tures rainwater from the roof of Babies “R”Us and transfers it to a cistern for stor­age, pumps water through sprinklers to irrigate over an acre of existing plants.

Stringent requirements limited the amount of impervious cover at the center.

“But we developed a center that works well within the requirement,” Newberg says.