San Marcos City Council Denies CUP For Downtown Purpose-Built Student-Housing Project

Staff Reports

On Tuesday, the San Marcos City Council voted 7-0 to deny the request for a Conditional Use Permit for the 75 Sylvan Street Project.

The property is located in the 100 Block of South Guadalupe Street between West San Antonio Street and West MLK Drive. The developer was proposing a student-built housing complex.

Council held a public hearing to receive comment for or against a CUP to allow a purpose-built student housing on a two-block stretch of downtown San Marcos back in June.

However, the council voted 6-1 to postpone its decision to allow a council committee to meet with the developer on the project.

Gilbane Development Company filed the CUP request earlier this year.

Shannon Mattingly, Director of Planning and Development, said it is her understanding that Gilbane Development Company no longer has the property under contract; however, the company has asked that the application be moved forward, and the property owners gave authorization to Gilbane to move the application forward.

Michael Cosentino said the city has not reached out to each of the property owners to confirm it, but there has been no withdrawal of authorization from any of them.

“We have an email from them stating that they would like it to be moved forward onto the next available agenda, which was this one,” Mattingly said, “And they were no longer interested in any other negotiations.”

According to Councilmember Melissa Derrick, the developer met with the committee but walked away from the table in negotiations.

“I was really disappointed; I think that all of us really wanted to try instead of just feeling like we’re being pressured into doing something,” Derrick said, “To sit at the table and say let’s work together to find a product that’s going to work for everyone in the community. And we put a lot of things out on the table; we had a lot of thoughtful ideas from the committee.”

Derrick continued to say everything seemed like it was great and they were going to talk to them, but then they never wanted to come back to speak with us again.

According to the agenda, the City Council Committee met July 22 and discussed issues including the possibility of the project being a low-income housing tax credit project, the project design, the possibility that the applicant purchase additional property within the Historic District in order to develop the entire block; there was no resolution.

The property is currently zoned Character District – 5 D, which allows for traditional multifamily.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-1 to deny the request with Commissioner Gabrielle Moore voting no.

Staff recommended approval with the following CUP conditions:

1. Approval of this request for “Purpose Built Student Housing” does not waive any development code regulations, whether or not they are represented in the submitted back up material;

2. Any proposed building must meet the requirements of all City Codes and Ordinances;

3. Streetscape improvements shall be required to extend to the intersection of San Antonio and Guadalupe Street;

4. There shall be no balconies or patios permitted on the building facing Telephone Alley;

5. The Pedestrian Passage shall be a minimum of two stories in height, with pedestrian level entrances on both sides, sufficient internal lighting, and a minimum glazing requirement of 70 percent on the clubhouse and lobby walls facing the Pedestrian Passage;

6. The applicant shall work with the City to mitigate noise and light nuisances associated with the parking garage;

7. There shall be a minimum of one operable building entrance/exit every 100 feet (on average) along the street frontage;

8. Smoke barriers shall be provided to subdivide every story that contains R-2 occupancies, into no fewer than two smoke compartments. Such stories shall be divided into smoke compartments of not more than 22,500square feet;

9. A means of egress shall be provided from each smoke compartment created by smoke barriers without having to return through the smoke compartment from which means of egress originated;

10. All plans shall be reviewed, at the expense of the permit applicant, by a third party, as approved by the COSM, for compliance with the fire codes as adopted by the COSM. Any expenses for the plans review shall be the responsibility of the permit applicant and paid directly to the third party. The cost of these expenses is in addition to any permit fees required by the COSM. Final approval of the submitted plans shall remain the authority of the COSM;

11. Full dedication and construction of Telephone Alley adjacent to this project shall be required at the time of development;

12. All perimeter roadways shall be fully repaired after construction;

13. Double occupancy of bedrooms shall be prohibited;

14. The project will construct a minimum parking ratio of .75 spaces per bedroom, and pay the fee-in-lieu for there main parking space per bedroom requirement in order to meet the full 1.05 parking spaces per bedroom requirement;

15. The project will provide an annual report of the number of students vs. the number of non-student residents by ratio of bedrooms; and

16. The project shall meet the Green Building Standard Silver Program.

According to Cosentino, after a CUP is denied, an applicant must wait six months to apply again.

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  1. Congratulations (with sarcasm) Voters of San Marcos
    Your city Council has again denied another premier development. Gilbane Development’s -Sylvan St. has suffered the same fate as Darren Casey’s – Sessoms St.
    Almost proves that when plans over achieve ‘minimum’ development standards it will be the stake in the heart of of common sense.
    I can only hope that Texas State acquires the property so that CoSM will never receive a dime of tax revenue from those owners again.

    1. We don’t need another ‘premiere development’ of more student housing in an area where “The property is currently zoned Character District – 5 D, which allows for traditional multifamily [dwellings]”, which the city DOES NOT have enough of.
      Texas State University does not even confer with the city on the number of students they take in each year and they do not care whether or not there is enough rooms for them.
      I am proud of City Council for not caving in to pressure from these builders.

    2. Bingo. Eventually the voters will wake up, as they have in the past. We are long overdue. Drain the swamp? In this mess, just flush the the toliet please.

  2. Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted May 28, 2019 to deny the CUP that would have been the first step for a 171 unit, 545 bedroom complex to move in. The Purpose Built Student Housing project would’ve taken most of the block stretching from San Antonio to MLK along Guadalupe.

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