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Stalled Sweetwater Community Back In Development

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Several reasons account why new developments stall, but in the case of Sweetwater Community – which is expected to take a decade to complete – it was a case of growth vs. nature. Since its inception, the project has stirred controversy. Sweetwater developers wanted to provide housing for a growing city and Save Our Springs Alliance wanted to protect local waterways. With a start and stop pace, the beautiful Sweetwater community in the Texas Hill Country has survived a tumultuous development.

In 2004 when Sweetwater’s original developer announced plans to develop 3,000 new homes on land with canyons, scenic ridges, and steep hills in western Travis County, Save Our Springs Alliance intervened and sued the developers stating that the development will pollute local waterways. SOS also claimed that the formation of the Lazy 9 Municipal Utility District, established by the developers to oversee services in the Sweetwater development, was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was dismissed and the court ruled in favor of the development requiring the alliance to pay nearly $300,000 in attorney fees to Bill Gunn and his partners. In face of having to pay a huge collection fee, SOS filed for bankruptcy in 2007. For several years, the residential project was left untouched and in 2010, Bank Midwest foreclosed on the Sweetwater project. Posted for foreclosure auction, Wheelock Street Capital acquired the vast property. The new owners offered changes to the Sweetwater plan that would be more protective of Bee Creek and Barton Creek – plans happily supported by SOS. “A lot of Sweetwater will remain wild and have extensive wilderness trails,” Real Estate Marketing Advisor Barbara Koenig, representing Sweetwater, said. “The goal is to keep everything as natural and beautiful as possible.”

Construction of the new development began this year and has been approved for 1,800 residences by Travis County and a proposed new middle school. Water retention and detention ponds have been constructed. David Weekley Homes plan to begin building in the 1,400-acre master-planned community of Sweetwater in early Spring 2012. Phase 1 homes will range from 1,600 square feet to 4,500 square feet and make up 225 lots. The first phase will also include a community welcome center and club house near the entrance, a resort pool and pavilion.

Want to live in Sweetwater in Travis County? Check back here in Spring 2012 – once listings hit the MLS, our site have a landing page for all homes for sale in Sweetwater.

What is your take on how growth should occur in Southwest Travis County? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Special thanks to Linda Scott of American Statesman for the photo.

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