River Mill redevelopment

Redevelopment plans for the Milltown area of New Braunfels were given initial approval by New Braunfels City Council members Monday. The area includes 29 acres and the Guadalupe River within the area known as the Milltown Historic District.

Development and redevelopment in New Braunfels was a topic of constant coverage by the Herald-Zeitung in 2021.

Among the numerous projects underway or in the planning stages in 2021, the most extensive development proposal unveiled during the year was the Mayfair project, a 1,900-acre project proposed along I-35 just outside the New Braunfels city limits slated to bring thousands of residential units to the area, commercial and light industrial development, as well as parks and spaces for additional schools. New Braunfels-based Southstar Communities is developing the project.

The proposal draws comparisons to Veramendi, a similar 2,400-acre project that had its official opening in 2019 and continues to build.

According to Jeff Jewell, New Braunfels’ director of economic development and community development, project plans call for 300 acres of publicly accessible parks and open space, sales tax sharing with New Braunfels, sites for four Comal ISD schools, updated regional utilities, a variety of different housing types, a dedicated employment center for commercial and industrial development and land stewardship standards.

Jewell added that the development agreement with SouthStar approved by city council members in June allows the city to impose development standards and reviews not allowed otherwise in an extraterritorial jurisdiction.

“There are benefits to master planning such a large area,” Jewell said. “You’re able to take a system-wide network approach to various things such as drainage, parks and transportation.”

Council members also approved the creation of Comal County Water Improvement District No. 3, which would maintain the authority to impose an assessment on paying for drainage, roads, water and sewer utilities, parks and other items appropriate by law within the development property.

The assessment’s purpose is to provide a reimbursement process to developers to construct various public facilities.

The development will include new roads to offset project traffic and be paid for by the developers, an east/west I-35 underpass, fire station property, wastewater and water utilities and regional drainage.

“It’s not our plan alone,” Thad Rutherford, president of SouthStar Communities, told the Herald-Zeitung. “This is a plan for the city and Envision New Braunfels. “All of the things New Braunfels has been land-planning for years — Mayfair is going to deliver — parks, open space, infrastructure. We pay for the infrastructure. That’s why there wasn’t opposition, in my opinion. We were bringing something to the table rather than asking for something at the end of the day. It’s a true mixed-use community, and we’re super excited about developing it.”

Envision New Braunfels is a city-wide effort to develop a vision and “roadmap” for New Braunfels’ future through 2030. City council members adopted it in August 2018.

The estimated build-out for the Mayfair project is 15 to 20 years.

In August, SouthStar named Chip Mills as senior vice president to lead the development of the Mayfair community.

Milltown

A plan to redevelop property in the Milltown area of New Braunfels, which includes a hotel, retail and restaurant space, office and event space and multifamily dwelling units, is undergoing a rezoning process.

City Council members earlier in December gave initial approval to a measure that would rezone the property from heavy industrial to a less intense mixed-use district to facilitate redevelopment under the project plan improvements identified in the River Mill tax increment reinvestment zone.

A second and final reading of the measure would come up for council consideration on Jan. 10.

The subject property, owned by San Antonio-based DRT-PMP Land LLC, includes 29 acres comprising 17 parcels of land adjacent to Broadway Drive, Rusk Street, Porter Street and the Guadalupe River, behind the New Braunfels MarketPlace shopping center. The property includes the old mill building, accessory buildings, structures and parking lots.

Don Thomas with DRT-PMP Land said the property’s design was inspired by the Pearl Brewery redevelopment in San Antonio.

“The idea is to keep some of the structures and try to reuse them,” he told council members.

Thomas said one of the structures slated for reuse is the original mill building.

He added that in addition to the hotel and retail possibilities, the plan also includes outdoor space that could be used for concerts and other activities to generate traffic for the hotel and retail establishments.

Thomas also added that no final decisions had been made on the redevelopment plans.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property that has great history with the buildings,” Thomas told the Herald-Zeitung after the meeting. “I like this type of product, so I think it will be something the city will embrace and like when it gets done.”

NBU’s Main Plaza

New Braunfels Utilities in November selected a recommended development team that includes local developers for the acquisition and development of its Main Plaza location, which utility officials say “delivers on the highest and best use of the site.” 

Team Mainzer, comprised of New Braunfels-based Seals Family Properties, Houston-based builder Kingham Dalton Wilson and New Braunfels-based Gillum Development, was named for the proposed site activation, delivering on goals the city-owned utility set up during the “Request for Qualifications” and “Request for Proposals” process. 

The announcement came after several years of planning and preparation to develop the NBU Main Plaza property and its future site use, NBU officials said.  

The proposed development integrates German culture and includes a downtown boutique hotel to be named “The Mainzer” and social gathering places including a restaurant and bar, and a social garden, a place developers said is conceived “to feel like home, providing a welcoming environment to come and stay for a while.”  

“Team Mainzer is honored and excited to be selected as the recommended developer of NBU’s Downtown Main Plaza building,” developer Gary Seals said. “We are locals, and we understand the importance of preserving and enhancing this important cornerstone of downtown and the history this site represents. We look forward to working out the details of our vision and bringing this concept to life — for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike.”

The recommended development team will formally present their proposal to the NBU Board of Trustees for consideration on Jan. 27, 2022. Negotiations with NBU and the city continue and will ultimately shape the final concept of the project. 

NBU started the divesting process of its historic Main Plaza buildings in January as it prepares to construct a new headquarters located off of Loop 337 adjacent to the NBU Trinity Well Field and Treatment Plant.

Hotel conversions

In November, California-based Vivo Investment Group, which specializes in recycling hotels into apartment complexes, announced plans to convert 75 rooms at the three-story former Quality Inn on the I-35 frontage road south of Loop 337 into long-term studio apartments.

Vivo is also completing a conversion project of 139 units at the former Ramada Inn on I-35 near Loop 337.

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