Tuesday, July 24, 2007 8:08 AM
Cielo Development in Bee Cave
Some time ago I was asked to participate in a focus group for a developer who was considering a project in the Bee Cave area. Those of us in the group, who met with the developers, were asked to keep quiet about this project until it was announced. Today, the Statesman broke the story about Ceilo, a sort of Tuscan-style development to be nestled in the hills of Bee Cave off of RM 620.
Cielo will be a 400 unit development that will be a mix of condos, luxurious flats and townhomes. Starting in the upper $300,00s, the units will be built into the landscape, taking on a Tuscan style. Surrounded by the Balcones Canyonland Preserve, the area will be surrounded by an undeveloped and protected nature preserve.
When the focus group met, the developer, Southern Land Co., told us that they envisioned an area with lush landscaping and huge views. I had two words for them - deer and water. My suggestion was to ditch the landscaping that worked so well in South Carolina and go with more of a native Texan look. This suggestion was made because no matter how hard they try to keep deer away from the landscaping, those critters will get in and munch it to the ground.
Just across the highway to the north of where Cielo is going in is Lake Travis Middle School. The school completed a major overhaul of the parking and driveway area before last year's beginning of school. The landscaping that was put in was not native Texan or deer resistant. I say this because it was evident that shrubs were eaten every time new growth appeared. The school district may have thought that the plants would not be attractive because of the location of the school. On one side is the highway. Across the drive is an apartment complex. Behind the school is the neighborhood of Falconhead. But there deer did their work anyway.
The other word I had for Cielo was water. Although we have had twice our normal rainfall so far in 2007, the previous 3 years were drought. Using landscaping techniques that would require a lot of water, well - need I say more?
The developers also envisioned a large amenities center. They thought about having a large kitchen with cooking classes as well as several large rooms for various group activities. Other amenities included a fitness center and pool. Knowing that Southern Land Co. was envisioning a lot of baby boomers moving in, the focus group suggested a more scaled back amenities center. We didn't think at this price point that buyers would be comfortable with a fairly high owner's association fee each month. Southern scaled back amenities to a nice clubhouse and pool.
With balconies, privacy, awesome views and interesting design features, Cielo hopes to do well. The neighboring condo project by Toll Brothers called Alta Vista has shown a strong start. Cielo looks to be a bit more upscale. Will the buyers be there? It will be fun to see.