(BASTROP) With a 90-day building moratorium in place as of August 14 and the Building Bastrop campaign inception, the City of Bastrop is working with Simple City Design gaining knowledge of Bastrop’s building past, appreciation of its present progress, and anticipation for the city’s future growth.
Realizing that Central Texas is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, creating substantial opportunities and challenges for cities in the area, the Bastrop City Council approved the building moratorium, using this time to explore responsible growth solutions, focusing on outdated development codes and stormwater management.
After weeks of research and data gathering, Simple City Design presented the Bastrop DNA Analysis report and Powerpoint presentation mid-October to the public at the Bastrop Convention Center and accompanied interested parties on a Community Tour the last Saturday in October. Next Building Bastrop opportunities at the Bastrop Convention Center include a Design Rodeo Thursday, Nov. 29 and Friday, Nov. 30 and Code Rodeo Thursday, Dec. 13 and Friday, Dec. 14.
Both rodeos, open to the public, will include experts from the community, designers, illustrators, city planners, geographers, engineers, drainage experts, elected and appointed officials, and City staff. The Design Rodeo will begin the conversation about the overall City design followed with the Code Rodeo, focusing on the code standards which will implement the outcomes of the Design Rodeo.
Bastrop, founded along the Colorado River in 1832, includes residential houses of Greek Revival, ornate Victorian, Prairie and Craftsman-style housing, surrounding the commercial core. Unlike most county seats, the county courthouse is not the “center” of the community. Instead, community growth is traced along the intersections of Main and Chestnut.
In 2016, the City adopted a Comprehensive Plan that recognized the development regulations currently in place were not created around the Downtown character, thus not protecting the character. It also recommended updating the development standards for the community. Therefore, the Bastrop DNA Analysis extracts the character of Downtown, quantifying “elements of the original city fabric, and, in doing so, captures the patterns of the built environment to inform the future of the City.”
The DNA Analysis concluded, from the classic Main Street center to the range of residential building types and lot sizes, Bastrop has all the elements to serve a wide variety of populations and lifestyles. The report states that Bastrop is easily walkable, bikeable, and driveable between home, work, play, and various cultural and social environments.
The Analysis identified three existing character areas within the Downtown as defined geographies including Historic Main Street, Downtown Mixed-Use, and Neighborhoods. It acknowledged a range of building types within a block.
The Historic Main Street Character represents the highest standard of built environment in Bastrop. With shopfront buildings, wide sidewalks providing room for benches and a street shaded by a canopy of trees, Historic Main Street still serves as a central gathering place, a restaurant and retail hub, and essential community services.
In the report’s Downtown Mixed-Use section, a case study report comparing new to established development focuses on land development patterns between Downtown Bastrop and Hunter’s Crossing off Highway 304. Findings suggest the overall organization of the built environment Downtown is timeless boasting churches and civic buildings with large front lawns to small-scale office and retail buildings wrapped in parking lots, all in walkable areas. Hunter’s Crossing, in contrast, is developed along a street hierarchy with larger blocks that are longer and provide little connectivity. Because streets are wider than Downtown streets, traffic flow in Hunter’s Crossing is much higher due to lack of intersections.
“Only time will tell how the new development patterns will fare in the future, [but] the integration of small buildings, located alongside larger buildings, and small houses, located adjacent to larger homes [in Downtown Bastrop], support a mix of options for people looking to move or open a business in Bastrop.”
The Neighborhood District, also complementing a walkable lifestyle with its proximity to amenities and Historic Main Street, makes up the majority of Downtown. Lots are significantly larger and are set back further than in the Downtown core. Existing sidewalks have been recently constructed. The report states that in Bastrop, unlike other Texas towns, an inner-ring small lot residential is largely missing.
“The findings of the DNA are crucial as the City writes its development standards for future growth,” the DNA Analysis report states. “Removing conventional and arbitrary development codes, which support the creation of generic building patterns, can be accomplished once this understanding and a conversation has been conducted. Using historical evidence and building upon a place which the community knows and loves, allows the City of Bastrop to begin its journey of city design and development code writing.”
To follow the progress of the Build Bastrop initiative, see https://www.cityofbastrop.org/page/buildingbastrop.