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Bryan high-rise condos move closer to reality after council OKs rezoning request

Bryan high-rise condos move closer to reality after council OKs rezoning request

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Ram Galindo is one step closer to bringing high-rise condominiums to the Bryan city skyline; Bryan city council members unanimously voted Tuesday to approve a rezoning request that opens doors for the project. Galindo, CEO of The Galindo Group, said after Tuesday’s special council meeting that he is looking to break ground in the spring. For now, he must complete his financing agreement with his lenders and begin pre-construction work with architects, engineers and contractors. 

Upon completion of the project, the 10.29-acre plot of land on West Villa Maria Road near Traditions Club golf course will have five high-rise residential condominiums and one building for boutique stores and specialty restaurants. 

“I’m really excited about it ...,” Galindo said about the council’s decision. “We’re going to go to work on that and put out a product that will be the pride and joy of everyone who lives in Bryan or College Station.”

A rezoning request first went to the city council in August. About a dozen residents opposed it, citing concerns mostly about the height of the buildings in Galindo’s plans. Council postponed taking action until a September meeting. 

On Sept. 8, council denied the rezoning request since the change would have allowed any type of multifamily housing to be on the property; instead, council members encouraged Galindo to work with city staff to create new development standards specifically for high-rise condominiums. 

The rezoning that the council approved Tuesday eliminates several land uses previously allowed on the property in favor of specifically outlining standards for the type of high-rise condominium that can be built there.

Martin Zimmermann, Bryan assistant development services director, said this rezoning is specific to the 10.29-acre property and is not changing anything else within the city since it is not a standard zoning classification. 

If the property is sold, the land would still have the same high-rise condominium zoning classification unless there is a request to change it and that request is approved. 

The council’s decision allows for the land use to be limited to high-rise residential condominiums, hotels, offices and a limited range of retail sales and service uses. The structures must be at least 10 stories tall but no more than 170 feet, which is a reduction from the approximately 200 feet that had been discussed in previous meetings. The maximum density permitted is 35 units per acre, all construction activities must be supervised by a project architect of record, and a landscape architect licensed by the state must be in charge of the landscape designs. 

If the minimum standards are met, city staff pointed out in their materials for the council that it will not produce buildings that are at the same level as the one in Houston that Galindo used as an example of what to expect. Even so, the staff’s analysis stated it will produce a “high-quality” development that could become one of the most recognizable features in Bryan-College Station.

“This is a first stab for our community to look at high-rise residential condominiums,” Zimmermann said in an interview before the meeting, “and we feel pretty comfortable with what we came up with.”

While councilman Buppy Simank initially moved for the council to postpone the decision about the rezoning until a later meeting and councilman Greg Owens agreed with him, both ended up voting in favor of approving the rezoning request. During the discussion, Councilman Brent Hairston stressed the desire to “show courtesy” to Galindo by voting rather than postponing since Galindo had said in a written statement to the council that “time is of the essence” for financing purposes. 

Councilman Reuben Marin thanked city staff for their work on the rezoning request, and Galindo for wanting to invest in the city through this project. Councilman Mike Southerland expressed similar sentiments, emphasizing how impressed he is with the level of experience and expertise of the people who Galindo is involving in the project. 

“This is going to be a wonderful thing I think to the city of Bryan and a great complement to The Traditions area,” Southerland said. “I really appreciate all these people coming together. It’s going to be a great project.” 

Several people involved in Galindo’s project, including his attorney, GT Leach Constructors and SCA Consulting Engineers, had representatives submit statements that were read during the public hearing asking for the council to move forward with the rezoning request. Two community members submitted statements expressing concerns about the project.

Bryan council members also adopted a resolution to create a trust account. In an email statement prior to the meeting, the city said that sometimes the Bryan Police Department comes into possession of disputed funds as part of ongoing investigations, so BPD requested that the city open a trust account to hold disputed funds that are in the department’s possession. The city is not the claimed owner of the funds, the city’s email continues. 

“The funds will be held in the trust account until such time as a court of competent jurisdiction determines the rightful owner of the funds or the District Attorney or a federal law enforcement agency requests the transfer of the funds,” the email reads. 

For more information on Tuesday’s meeting, visit bryantx.gov/channel16

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