Hillwood Communities is expanding its Wolf Ranch development in Georgetown after buying 366 more acres where 800 single-family homes will be built, the company has announced.
The tract, named the “Guy tract” after the family that sold it, has three miles of frontage along the South San Gabriel River and will have 23 acres of parkland, according to a company news release.
In June, the Georgetown City Council approved zoning for the 366 acres, which also allows for multifamily units and townhomes to be built on the tract, said Duke Kerrigan, the Austin general manager for Dallas-based Hillwood Communities.
“We will look to the market to determine if we move forward with those land uses,” Kerrigan said.
Construction on the single-family homes is expected to start in late 2019, with the first phase of the development to open in late 2020, he said. Hillwood Communities also is spending $3 million to build three miles of a trail on the tract that eventually will run from Interstate 35 to Garey Park.
“The recent inclusion of the 366-acre Guy tract to Wolf Ranch will help fulfill the city’s vision of connecting the trail system from I-35 to Garey Park,” Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said in a statement in Hillwood’s news release.
A few Georgetown neighbors have expressed concern that many trees will be destroyed when the tract is developed. Dr. Jeff Latimer, who lives near the planned development, said last week that he can see many large live oaks dotting the tract.
“I don’t know why they can’t put in 5- to 10-acre lots that would at least preserve a lot of the trees or most of the trees,” he said.
Barton Levy, whose home overlooks the tract, said it was one of the most beautiful properties in Georgetown because of the trees.
He said the city’s tree ordinance won’t protect them enough and is not enforceable. The ordinance allows a developer to remove 80 percent of trees less than 26 inches in diameter and 20 percent of “heritage trees,” which are 26 inches in diameter and larger.
“The developer or any developer has no oversight from the city on the removal of the trees,” said Levy. He said the city has “a complete disregard for the value of trees to our ecosystem.”
Developers are required to turn in a survey of trees on their property to the city as part of their planning process. Georgetown doesn’t have enough staff to double-check the survey by visiting the property, but the city has inspectors on site during construction looking at tree protection fencing, said Heather Brewer McFarling, Georgetown’s urban forester. “We also have inspectors do final acceptance inspections at project completion,” she said.
Kerrigan said it is in the “best interests” of Hillwood Communities to preserve as many trees as possible.
“We feel that is the right thing to do in terms of creating a unique community and being good stewards of the land,” he said.
The acquisition of the 366 acres expands the Wolf Ranch master planned community — about half a mile from the intersection of I-35 and Texas 29 — to 1,120 acres, according to the release from Hillwood Communities.
The Wolf Ranch development is expected to have 2,600 homes and several multifamily projects when it is built out, the release said. Hillwood Communities also sold land within the development to the Georgetown school district for a new elementary school called Wolf Ranch Elementary, which the company said is expected to open in the fall of 2020.
Since the development’s first phase opened in early 2017, 135 homes have been sold and 635 apartments have been built, Kerrigan said. An amenity center and a pool also opened in April.