A Letter to the Community
Published April 10, 2016 in the San Marcos Daily Record
Dear Friends, Neighbors, City Staff members, and members of the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council,
Over the past 14 months, you’ve kindly and generously spent lots of time with us—in your kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms, at community gathering places, at City Hall, and in offices around town--helping us understand your needs and shape a plan for the redevelopment of Lindsey Hill.
From the outset, our conversation has been broader than: “What’s a good use for this site?” Rather, the broader question always has been: “How do we, together, achieve a redevelopment of Lindsey Hill in a way that best advances the goals, priorities, hopes, and aspirations of this City?”
That’s an important question, because—since the earliest days of this City--the identity, prestige, and prosperity of San Marcos always have been tied closely to this site.
In 1868, when Colonel Orlando Hollingsworth, a retired Confederate Army officer, built the Coronal Institute at the top of this magnificent site, he understood that he was building more than just a school. He was building a community institution that served as both symbol and calling card for this young, ambitious city. It put San Marcos on the map as a bold, visionary, forward-looking community that—through education--intended to play a leadership role in the growth and development of this frontier state. It took a few years for Colonel Hollingsworth’s plan to gain traction, but in the hands of Reverend Robert Belvin, Hollingsworth’s vision was fully realized. Students from all parts of Texas and beyond came to San Marcos to acquire the knowledge and skills they needed to help build this young, confident, dynamic state. The Coronal Institute was widely known and admired, as was the City of San Marcos.
In those days, the Coronal Institute served as nexus and focal point for community life. It is not by accident that the City’s much-admired historic neighborhoods grew up around the Coronal school campus. The City’s leading citizens felt the gravitational pull of the City’s most distinguished cultural and social gathering point, and wanted to be as close as possible to the center of action.
That powerful history—both of the City and of this particular site—strongly influences how we approach Lindsey Hill. San Marcos has the opportunity, once again, to play a prominent leadership role in the growth and development of the region and the state, and to be acknowledged for its leadership. The path lies in showing how to manage growth in a strategic, environmentally responsible, and community-building way. That first and foremost, influences our thinking.
We envision Lindsey Hill as a walkable neighborhood—something unique to all of Central Texas (something that not even our much celebrated neighbor to the north, Austin, has). From Lindsey Hill, a person (resident or out-of-town guest) can walk to work or business appointment at the University or downtown, attend to day-to-day needs by patronizing stores and businesses on the Square, shop at the HEB, attend cultural events at the University, and attend church—all on foot. Casual social interaction--planned and spontaneous—among Lindsey Hill guests, residents, and their neighbors--can occur on Lindsey Hill grounds, at the park at Poet’s corner and on the broad landscaped sidewalks surrounding Lindsey Hill. Warm, genuine, person-to-person engagement can occur under the canopy of old growth trees in The Grove and Poet’s Corner and in the small on-site shops and restaurants.
Why is this important? At the most basic level, it’s important because it enhances the quality of our individual lives. But it has strategic importance, too. This walkable lifestyle opportunity does not yet exist in the region. Critically, it is the lifestyle most valued by the generation that is now beginning to assume leadership positions in industry and in the workplace: the millennials. This generation seeks out communities where high quality, commute-free, environmentally responsible lifestyle can be experienced. And rest assured that the companies who need this generation of employees in their workforces have taken notice: employers now follow employees—not the other way around. So who wins in the corporate relocation competition for high tech and sophisticated services industries? Those communities that best are able to provide this coveted lifestyle.
San Marcos can do it. Brilliantly. Authentically. And in a manner that showcases a “real deal” town center and surrounding city core. That achievement is not a stretch—it’s an opportunity waiting to be realized—if we all combine to share the vision, courage, and confidence to seize the moment.
Some of our neighbors in the historic neighborhood have expressed concerns. That is human nature. Caution always accompanies pending change. In the past 14 months, when we’ve sat with you in your homes, offices, or elsewhere in one-on-one meetings, you’ve gotten to know us and to take a measure of us. You know who we are as people, and what our values and priorities are. Although some of you whom we haven’t yet personally met describe us otherwise, you know we aren’t “just another real estate developer chasing a deal.”
We’re not interested in “a deal” (those are more easily accomplished at other properties, with less fuss and bother and with better profitability). We’re interested in doing something extraordinary--at a one-of-a-kind site--with your blessing, encouragement, and active involvement.
Thank you to the many, many of you who’ve expressed (and continue to express) support for Lindsey Hill. We know this conversation is not an easy one for the community. And our goal is to not create stress for anyone. Our goal is to serve and support the City and this community in fulfilling its goals, priorities, hopes and aspirations. It would be our privilege to have the opportunity do so.
David Lerman and Mark Berins
Developers of Lindsey Hill