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AUSTIN-Development of the 4.5 acres at the northeast corner of Lamar Boulevard and Cesar Chavez has been pending since the 1980s. Developers go before the Austin City Council today for a zoning change that could move the project toward construction in 2002.

Lumbermen’s Investment Corp., the landowner, is seeking a zoning change that would allow it to increase the height of a structure to 180 feet from the 120 allowed under its current zoning. Although Lumbermen’s has not filed a site plan, it would be a mixed-use project with at least 60% devoted to multifamily housing.

The zoning request is the latest action in a development saga that goes back to Austin’s boom of the early 1980s. The real estate bust of the late 1980s and an extended dispute over where Lumbermen’s property started and city property ended have kept the project in abeyance.

The zoning change could result in a lower-rise development than Lumbermen’s currently has permission to build. Under a site plan approved about a decade ago, a building could be 220 feet tall, according to Glenn Rhoades, the city staffer working on the request. “One of the conditions of that agreement, if the zoning is approved and the site plan is approved, is that the old zoning site plan will go away and he will build a mixed-use project with at least 60% of it multifamily,” Rhoades tells GlobeSt.com.

The Lumbermen’s zoning quest takes its first turn before the city council with a public hearing. The Austin Zoning and Planning Commission has recommended that city grant the zoning change.

The property is nestled below the Union Pacific railroad tracks as they curve west after crossing Town Lake. It fronts on Cesar Chavez on the banks of the lake. Just north, across the tracks, is Atlanta-based Post Properties’ 239-unit West Avenue apartments. Also nearby is to be a multifamily development by Dallas-based Phoenix Properties.

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