Town Center takes root in Cedar Park

Stephan Burnett |
Source: Community Impact

New restaurants and retail to open near Toll 183A.

In 2014 the Town Center shop­ping plaza at Toll 183A and Whit­estone Boulevard in Cedar Park expanded from a single Costco store to 16 businesses. In 2015 the project is still growing and con­tinues to encourage new develop­ment nearby, making Toll 183A and Whitestone a flourishing retail and restaurant hub.

City leaders said that in 2015 residents will likely see more businesses and offices announce their arrivals in the Toll 183A cor­ridor between New Hope Drive and Whitestone.

Town Center’s developer, The Ainbinder Company, has announced that in 2015 it will open two restaurants, Lupe Tor­tilla and PDQ, and at least two more businesses, Spa Organic Nail Salon Plus and Supercuts.

Nearby, southwest of Cot­tonwood Creek Trail and Whit­estone, another new retail center, Starwood Oaks, will open in sum­mer with a Denver Mattress store and two restaurants-Masala Wok and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Panera Bread will also open a new location in March, east of Starwood Oaks and just south of the 1890 Ranch shopping center, southwest of Whitestone and Starwood Drive.

More medical facilities are also coming to the corridor, such as a pediatric facility at Toll 183A and Medical Parkway, and a U.S. Memory Care assisted-living cen­ter on C-Bar Ranch Trail.

All the area growth is exceed­ing the initial expectations of city leaders and business owners, said Phil Brewer, Cedar Park director of economic development.

“It is such a hot area in terms of traffic volume and access and vis­ibility,” Brewer said.

Every day about 30,000 vehicles travel Toll 183A, and 40,000 vehi­cles travel Whitestone, he said.

“That’s a real attractive area for commercial developers, whether it’s retail or restaurants or office space,” he said.

Center of growth

Previously Cedar Park planners envi­sioned Town Center as the site of a new City Hall and mixed-use, walkable downtown. But in 2011, Michael Ainbinder, owner The Ainbinder Co., proposed a traditional retail plaza anchored by a big-box store.

Costco was the first business to open at Town Center in November 2013, and six new restaurants southwest of Costco opened by summer 2014. By the end of 2014, Town Center included two large retailers-Costco and At Horne-IO restaurants and four other businesses.

After Zoes Kitchen opened in April, the restaurant was packed with customers for months, Krista Kharazi-Goljahi, Zoes assistant general manager said.

“When I first moved to the Cedar Park area, none of this [development] was even here,” she said. “I see Costco-they have a line out the door . … This is definitely a good spot.”

Ainbinder said the Town Center project is almost 100 percent leased.

“We’re very happy to be developing in Cedar Park,” Ainbinder said. “The area between [US] 183 and I-35 north of Lake­line Mall is the fastest-growing trade area in the state of Texas . … And Cedar Park has historically been an underserved mar­ket. All of the retail concentration is down by Lakeline Mall, but that’s not generally where the population is.”

The new businesses have encouraged another project to the north of Town Center-a 42.86-acre site Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group bought in September, Brewer said. That month City Council approved rezoning the site from downtown district use to a planned devel­opment. The zoning category can include office space or retail and limits uses such as vehicle sales. Endeavor has not announced its plans for the site.

Endeavor is the developer that in 2007 launched the 1890 Ranch shopping cen­ter and in 2011 sold the center, which is now owned by RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust.

The city’s vision

For 10 years Cedar Park City Council has invested in the Toll 183A and Whitestone hub, Brewer said. Mayor Matt Powell said city leaders have long wanted businesses such as Costco and In-N-Out Burger to be located in that area to draw in new indus­tries, offices and stores.

On Nov. 20, City Council approved an update to the city’s comprehensive plan, which outlines the city’s long-term vision for local development and future zoning. The plan’s land-use map reflects city lead­ers’ goal to zone land near Toll 183A and Whitestone for future offices and retail. The map also promotes new shops, restau­rants or offices extending northeast from the existing Town Center and 1890 Ranch shopping centers to the city limit.

City Council has encouraged new com­mercial interest in the area by offering incentives to developers.

“That’s a real attractive area for commercial developers, whether it’s retail or restaurants or office space.”
-Phil Brewer, director of economic development for the city of Cedar Park

In 2012, City Council approved an agreement stipulating that landowner Cedar Park Town Center can keep por­tions of Costco’s generated tax rev­enue-20 percent of property taxes and 25 percent of sales taxes:–for 15 years or up to $6 million. In September 2014, City Council approved another incentive for Pediatric Subspecialty Land Co. North LLC to open a 70,000-square-foot facility by spring 2016 northeast of Toll 183A and Medical Parkway.

Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell said the successes of Costco and other Town Cen­ter businesses have helped boost Cedar Park’s sales taxes. In fiscal year 2012-13, Cedar Park gained about $8.7 million in sales tax revenue, a number that jumped to $10.2 million in FY 2013-14.

2015 and beyond

Ainbinder said planning has begun for a Town Center hotel, Staybridge Suites by Marriott, which may break ground this year. City leaders said they expect expan­sion near the intersection will continue in 2015 because of the growth of clinics on Medical Parkway and high-tech companies at Scottsdale Crossing Commerce Park.

Dana Holding Corp.’s research and development facility at Scottsdale Cross­ing is complete. In September city leaders approved incentives for Voltabox, a lithium ion battery manufacturer that has broken ground on a 22,000°-square-foot facility next door to the Dana building.

Existing business in and near Town Cen­ter and 1890 Ranch also help make the area attractive to prospective employers.

“You naturally end up spending money near where you work,” Powell said. “The offices and the hospital and everything out there [on Toll 183A] all work together to get a multiplying effect.”

But challenges persist for some Toll 183A/Whitestone-area properties, such as within the 1890 Ranch shopping center. As of Jan. 5 the center had 10 vacancies, most of them behind Gold’s Gym or in front of the Cinemark movie theater.

Brewer said any large shopping center such as 1890 Ranch, whose shops’ square footage totals about 900,000 square feet, will have a small percentage of vacancies.

Powell said city staffers are planning traf­fic signal adjustments for expected increased traffic at Toll 183A and Whitestone. Design has also begun for the RM 1431 Gap Project to widen Whitestone between Cottonwood Creek Trail and Vista Ridge Boulevard.

In 2015 more businesses will likely announce they are building on Toll 183A and Whitestone, though Brewer said the city can’t yet announce new projects. He said city planners hope more specialty stores will build near the intersection.

“We would [also] like to see maybe higher-end restaurants coming into that area,” Brewer said.