LOCAL NEWS

‘Heart of Bell Boulevard’ public workshop planned

Cedar Park officials are seeking input for a future walkable, mixed-use development's "overall look and feel"

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As final designs are underway in the next planning phase for the Bell Boulevard redevelopment project, Cedar Park officials are seeking public input about the project as well as update the community on the city’s progress in an upcoming workshop.

Since 2014, city staff have been gathering feedback and developing plans to redevelop the portion of Bell Boulevard between Park Street and Buttercup Creek Boulevard into a walkable mixed-use development of residential, retail, dining and park amenities.

Officials have compared the overall project to the likes of the St. Elmo District and The Triangle in Austin.

The workshop will take place Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cedar Park Recreation Center at 1435 Main Street. The workshop is a come-and-go format with a brief presentation provided at 6:15, 7 and 8 p.m. Several interactive activities are planned for community members to provide input on the district’s overall “look and feel.”

At the meeting, city officials will also share the engineering and design progress they’ve made since the last community input session in 2016.

Katherine Caffrey, Cedar Park’s assistant city manager, said she’s looking forward to the community’s comments for the project.

“The best way for the community to help us shape a project that reflects our unique community is to participate in the workshop and online poll which will be available during and after the workshop,” Caffrey said.

Making Bell a destination district

For decades, Bell Boulevard has been a high traffic north-south corridor for Cedar Park. Approximately 45,438 vehicles travel down this portion of Bell Boulevard each day, according to the city. 

The city first adopted a master redevelopment plan after gathering public input in August 2015 in an effort to provide a “distinctive commercial corridor” conducive to a vibrant business environment that is pedestrian-friendly. That following November, 74.6 percent of voters who participated in the election approved a $96.7 million bond that included the revitalization project.

“We’ve heard from the public for many years an interest in creating a unique, vibrant gathering place for our residents – one that has a mix of activities including dining, shopping, residential, office, park and community spaces,” she said. “We’ve also heard a lot of interest in revitalizing the Bell Boulevard business corridor. This project unites both of those goals.”

The first phase of the redevelopment is relocating the portion of Bell Boulevard between Park Street and Buttercup Creek Boulevard further east to overlay Old Hwy. 183. With the west portion out, the plan is to open up 40-acres for development and connect 12-acres of park and trail amenities with the Buttercup Creek Natural Area.

The project is still in the planning phase, and the upcoming workshop aims to provide an update to the community on progress made, said Jennie Huerta, Cedar Park spokesperson. 

“It creates a gathering place for families and individuals to shop, eat, play, live and work,” Caffery said. “It creates economic vitality for our business community, improving the local economy.”

According to interviews, businesses have been notified and told about the project by the city and its implications, but some expressed concern about how the project is going to affect their business.

Angela Holt, owner of Angie’s Barber Shop at 200 S Bell Blvd. B-7, said she is hoping to learn more at the upcoming community input workshop. She said her business will eventually be affected by the project.

“We’re kind of in the dark,” she said. “The city hasn’t really talked about it since the last meeting. They just told us the road is going to be realigned.”

With the upcoming workshop, the plans to update the public and gather more input as the project moves forward.

“We’ve continued to receive feedback, positive and critical, and carefully reviewed all of these comments in light of the larger project,” Caffery said.

For more information and the city’s master plan about the project, visit www.destinationbellblvd.cedarparktexas.gov.

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