Zoning Question - Austin, TX (SF-3 --> MF-4 possible?

5 Replies | Austin, Texas

I'm looking at a property in Clarksville area of Austin, TX that is zoned as SF-3-HD-NP. It was listed on MLS as a Triplex that is zoned MF-4, but through discussions with existing tenant (who looked at buying in past) it has been uncovered it is actually zoned SF-3-HD-NP (Historic District; Neighborhood Planning Oddly enough the TCAD shows it as MF-4 but we now have confirmation it is not per the listing agent.


The lot is 6000 SF, all of the other lots on the street are MF-4.  Does anyone have an idea of what it would take to get it re-zoned to MF-4 given the context or is that highly unlikely.  

You haven’t mentioned your plans for the property. If your objective is to build as many units as you can on the lot, you are obviously going to be a lot better off with MF-4, that is a high density zoning. If that’s your objective I wouldn’t rely on a the county or a listing agent to supply that data. 

I’d go see a good, very experience land development engineer who could look at this from every angle and give you the real scoop.

It’ll probably cost you some money and you’d want to get a 30 days option on the property to do your investigations. The land engineers are swamped right now with thousands of big and small projects being done in the city, so you’d want to have enough time so the engineer takes your lil research project on.  

Not sure how realistic it is to get a 30 days option from the seller. It all depends on how much attention they’ve been getting and how long they’ve been sitting on the market.

I imagine being able to get it zone MF-4 would allow you to pay somewhat of a higher price for it vs SF-3. If a parcel is large enough, you may be able to subdivide and squeeze more units out of it then currently built. Again, the land engineer is your friend who’ll be able to see if there is a way to subdivide. Just keep in mind, subdividing the parcel will take at least 7-8 months, possibly longer, so you have budget for that. 

Also keep in mind, Clarksville is notorious for its neighborhood association that is extremely protective of historic properties and in general opines against building higher density properties.

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Brian, I have lived in Clarksville for 18 years and long ago was on the Board of OWANA. I also own an MF4 property nearby. I can tell you that there is ZERO chance you will be able to rezone from SF3 to MF4. In fact, the lot at 6000SF does not meet minimum size requirements for MF4 (minimum 9K or 10K SF I believe) so it could never hold that zoning. There was a zoning situation on Winflo street in 2017 where the owner had a 7400SF lot zoned MF3. The city ended up denying his request to a triplex because even though the site had MF3 zoning it did not meet the requirements of being 8,000SF needed for MF3 zoning. Keep in mind that the City is releasing the next version of the LDC in October and that will likely add more expansive zoning to the properties in this area, especially those within 1/4 mile of 6th (core transit corridor). So while it is not possible now to build more than a duplex on that lot, it will likely change. 

Originally posted by @Chris Schorre :

Brian, I have lived in Clarksville for 18 years and long ago was on the Board of OWANA. I also own an MF4 property nearby. I can tell you that there is ZERO chance you will be able to rezone from SF3 to MF4. In fact, the lot at 6000SF does not meet minimum size requirements for MF4 (minimum 9K or 10K SF I believe) so it could never hold that zoning. There was a zoning situation on Winflo street in 2017 where the owner had a 7400SF lot zoned MF3. The city ended up denying his request to a triplex because even though the site had MF3 zoning it did not meet the requirements of being 8,000SF needed for MF3 zoning. Keep in mind that the City is releasing the next version of the LDC in October and that will likely add more expansive zoning to the properties in this area, especially those within 1/4 mile of 6th (core transit corridor). So while it is not possible now to build more than a duplex on that lot, it will likely change. 

 Thanks Chris.  Just to clarify, you are saying that with the next version of LDC in October, there may be an opportunity to build more than a duplex even with the SF-3? 

@Brian Marver Hi Brian, yes the next version of the LDC is expected to focus on density and thus more entitlements in some areas. The City is especially focused on doing this for properties within 1/4 mile of a core transit corridor. Much of 5th and 6th are defined as such. Those entitlements will depend on the size of the lot, current zoning etc. but it is widely expected that some properties will get higher FAR allotment, lower impervious cover and in some cases, more than a duplex on existing SF3 zoned lots. Also, reduced parking requirements if within a 1/4 mile of 5th/6th. Of course, we won't know exactly which lots will get what until October but the City Council is very pro-density right now and so is the Mayor.