Willie Nelson to Develop His Ranch Property

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Willie Nelson could soon have some neighbors on his Spicewood spread.

Plans are in the works to develop 41 home sites for a luxury- subdivision on Nelson’s rugged 688-acre ranch off Bee Creek Road, about 30 miles west of Austin in western Travis County.



With frontage along Pace Bend Road, the one- to two-acre lots would overlook the Pedernales River and the Pedernales River Bridge along Texas 71, said Bobby Day, a veteran Hill Country developer and longtime friend who Nelson tapped to develop the project.

Called Tierra Vista, the development would be on land adjacent to the Pedernales country club and golf course that Nelson owns. The home sites would be on mountainous terrain studded with cedar and live oak trees, and would take up about 63 acres of Nelson’s ranch. Day declined to discuss prices for the home sites.

Day, who developed other residential and golf-course communities in the area, said he doesn’t expect to have any trouble selling the lots.

Buyers are expected to include locals as well as retirees and second-home owners from Houston, Dallas and states including California, Arizona and Colorado.

“It will be a very low-density, highly restricted subdivision,” Day said, similar to his Barton Creek Lakeside and Lakecliff on Lake Travis projects, both high-end golf-course communities. Lakeside has 480 home sites, with about 240 homes built; Lakecliff has 125 lots, with 28 existing homes. Homes on Lakecliff’s waterfront range from $1 million to $7.2 million.

At Tierra Vista, homes will be required to be at least 3,000 square feet, and Day will approve all landscaping.

The project will require subdivision plat approvals from Travis County and the Lower Colorado River Authority. The nearby incorporated village of Briarcliff has approved water for the project, Day said.

Work on roads and utilities could start this summer, pending plat approvals, and the first custom homes could start rising soon after, Day said. The development could be fully built in two to three years, he said.

Tierra Vista would join a growing number of subdivisions, both large and smaller-scale, that are planned or under way along Texas 71 in western Travis County, an area distinguished by its views of Lake Travis and the Hill Country.

Last week, San Francisco- based Haas & Haynie said it plans to develop a luxury residential golf-course community on the former ranch of the Covert auto dealership family on Lake Travis’ south shore. Called Vizcaya, the 1,050-acre project could have 450 to 500 homes when completed over the next 10 years.

Pending plat approvals, work on roads for the first phase could start in spring 2008, followed by construction of an 18-hole Reese Jones-designed golf course and water and wastewater plants. Construction on the first custom homes is expected to start in 2009.

Prices haven’t been set for the lots, which will range in size from about half an acre to up to 2 1/2 acres.

While some say the area is suited to luxury residential development, open-space advocates and others question the projects’ impact.

Christy Muse, director of the Hill Country Alliance, said last week that although she liked that Vizcaya’s developers plan to limit the amount of building on each lot, concerns remain about traffic on Bee Creek Road, runoff into Lake Travis and the lack of nearby schools.

“Once again, we are moving ahead with a major new development away from existing infrastructure,” Muse said of Vizcaya.

Joni Langle, a real estate agent with Bee Creek Realty, sees the charm of the Bee Creek area, having lived there for more than 24 years.

“The beauty of the land as well as its close proximity to Austin was a drawing card from the beginning. Therefore I can certainly understand the attraction from developers,” Langle said. However, she said she is confident that the estate lots planned for Nelson’s ranch “will meet environmentally sensitive criteria, as Bobby’s other projects have.”

Just how much Nelson might see his new neighbors is another question. “Like his song, he’s on the road again,” Day said. “He spends more time on the bus than any other place.”

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