Wednesday, May 15, 2013

UTEP’s SmartCode Plan: Former Rudolph Lot To Become Mixed-Use Project

A 7.645 acre plot of land at the University of Texas at El Paso that formerly housed a car dealership may soon see new life as an infill housing and retail development. And a new rezoning application indicates that SmartCode will be used to help create a pedestrian friendly space.
The property is between Mesa Street and Sun Bowl Drive.
Campus Developers, LLC, signed a 50-year lease with the property’s owner, University of Texas system, and will construct approximately 100 units for student housing and hundreds more apartments that will be priced at market rates. The ground floor of the apartment buildings will contain retail uses.

The site is sandwiched between Mesa Street and Sun Bowl Drive and contains a narrow sliver that sticks out of the southern end, sliding behind current Taco Tote and Village Inn locations.

According to the newest site plan, four buildings will make up the development. The largest will span the entire width of the property and looks to house a parking garage within the structure lined with retail uses.
Four buildings will make up the SmartCode development at UTEP. The northernmost building, at left, will contain a parking structure.
Two similarly sized buildings makeup the midsection of the property, one lining Mesa Street and the other abutting Sun Bowl Drive. The latter may also include parking within the building.

The fourth building seems to have an irregular shape and sits in the area behind the existing restaurants. It is closest to the Don Haskins Center arena and could be the dormitory due to its proximity to the University.

Besides the parking structures, vehicles will also have access to angled and traditional perpendicular parking spaces. There is no indication yet if parking will require permits.

SmartCode zoning will allow the property to have a more dense, urban feel that includes shops intermingled with apartments buildings, “substantial pedestrian activity,” and little to no building setbacks along streets. Building facades become “street walls” in this setting and include elements that add interest, such as storefronts, galleries, and stoops. Buildings can be two to six stories high.

The SmartCode application was prepared by the Moule & Polyzoides architecture and planning firm for the developer. The design adds that building footprints are not finalized and subject to change.

The City Plan Commission will review the rezoning application at its May 16, 2013, meeting. If approved, the item will go to City Council for final approval. No timeline for project completion or phasing is included in the item.