WHAT’S NEXT TO EN­JOY AT HIGH­LAND MALL SITE

2 acres on edge of former High­land Mall in­tended for use by com­mu­nity.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Dinges gdinges@states­man.com

A patch of as­phalt on the south­ern edge of the former High­land Mall site in Cen­tral Austin will soon be trans­formed into a lush 2-acre pub­lic park.

The project is part of a big­ger ef­fort by Austin Com­mu­nity Col­lege, which now owns the prop­erty, to trans­form it into a bustling neigh­bor­hood with a col­lege cam­pus, hous­ing, of­fices, shops, restau­rants and other ameni­ties in part­ner­ship with Austin devel­oper RedLeaf Prop­er­ties.

Work on the park — one of three planned for ACC High­land — is now un­der­way near the former Dil­lard’s women’s store and is ex­pected to be com­pleted this fall. The park will be ac­ces­si­ble from both Air­port Boule­vard and Clay­ton Lane, de­vel­op­ers say.

“This area was once the lo­ca­tion of over­flow park­ing for High­land Mall,” RedLeaf Prop­er­ties prin­ci­pal Matt Whe­lan said in a writ­ten state­ment, “and we’re in­cred­i­bly proud to trans­form this former gray util­i­tar­ian place into a green, ac­tive space that will bring new life and vi­tal­ity to the area.”

Plans call for the 2-acre park to be heav­ily land­scaped. A pair of her­itage oak trees will be re­lo­cated to the park from else­where on the prop­erty, with a num­ber of other trees set to be planted such as Mex­i­can sycamores, bur oaks and cedar elms.

When the en­tire prop­erty is fully re­de­vel­oped, RedLeaf Prop­er­ties and ACC es­ti­mate they will have added about 1,000 trees to the former mall site.

“Given all the peo­ple who will use this space — stu­dents, fac­ulty, staff, res­i­dents, sur­round­ing neigh­bors — this new space is de­signed to ac­com­mo­date work­day, evenings and week­end ac­tivi-

ties,” said Chris Jack­son with TBG Part­ners, the park’s prin­ci­pal de­signer. “It’s a place peo­ple will want to visit to qui­etly study, throw a ball or catch a Fris­bee, go for a run or walk, meet up with friends or fam­ily or take in na­ture in an area where there hasn’t been any for nearly 50 years.”

Ameni­ties at the park will in­clude benches, a play lawn, a fit­ness sta­tion and space for com­mu­nity gar­dens.

The first phase of a fit­ness trail that will loop the prop­erty will also be con­structed along with the park.

“High­land is rich with his­tory and ACC is com­mit­ted to hon­or­ing its legacy,” ACC pres­i­dent and CEO Richard Rhodes said. “Trans­form­ing these con­crete spa­ces into invit­ing green parks for the com­mu­nity has been para­mount to our rede­vel­op­ment. “This project is about re­new­ing hope and build­ing bet­ter lives. Learn­ing is at the core and these spa­ces will only en­hance that en­vi­ron­ment for our stu­dents and em­ploy­ees and the hun­dreds who will visit, live and work at High­land.”

Other projects un­der­way at ACC High­land in­clude a pair of apart­ment com­plexes. Elan Park­side, which will have 300 units and 5,000 square feet of re­tail space, is ex­pected to be­gin pre­leas­ing soon, while an­other project an­nounced in June will bring 390 more apart­ments and an addi- tional 25,000 square feet of re­tail space when it opens in late 2018 or early 2019.

Mean­while, in the former mall build­ing it­self, ACC is con­tin­u­ing build­out of spa­ces, cre­at­ing ad­di­tional class­rooms, labs and of­fices for stu­dents and staff.

CON­TRIB­UTED

A her­itage tree re­lo­cated from else­where on the former High­land Mall site will be placed in the new 2-acre park. Some 1,000 trees will be added the com­plex.

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