Leander, Texas

Leander, Texas stands at a crossroad of opportunity.  Its location at the northwestern edge of the Central Texas growth corridor has made Leander one of the fastest-growing cities in the state.  Leander will see much of its growth from the construction of the 183A Tollway by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) and the regional urban commuter rail system by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), linking Leander with Downtown Austin.

Growth in the region is both desirable and inevitable.  In acknowledgement of this fact, Leander Mayor John Cowman and the City Council, together with the Capital Metro Directors, are pursuing strategies that are sustainable beyond their terms of office.  In the Fall of 2003, Mayor Cowman and the leadership of Central Texas traveled to the Washington, D.C. Region to evaluate New Urbanism and transit-oriented development (TOD).  After years of discussion in the Central Texas Region and coming together on the trip, the Central Texas delegation became convinced that planning, form-based code reforms and a leveraging of transportation facilities can harness growth into sustainable, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhoods. 

For Phase I of the initiative, the consultant team, lead by the Gateway Planning Group, and City staff identified the critical parcels that would be impacted by the forthcoming transportation improvements. It was determined that the properties along existing and future roadways and rail should be included. Adjacent to those properties, “Old Town” Leander was already being considered by the City for redevelopment.  Approximately 2000 acres were ultimately included in the Initiative.

The consultant team and the City then met with major landowners.  The landowners agreed that future development will have to comply with a new master plan and a unified development code based on the SmartCode, a form-based code.  The new form-based code completely replaces the current zoning and subdivision ordinances.  Compelling, the consultant team undertook a fiscal impact analysis concluding that the Initiative at build-out would double tax base.  As compared to conventional trends, development within the planning area would increase value by almost $1Billion, estimating conservatively.  Consensus emerged to proceed with a detailed planning and code effort funded jointly by the major landowners, the City and Capital Metro.  The transect-based master plan is supported by a market study that projected a mix of several thousand additional urban housing units, along with significant demand for boutique TOD retail, in addition to the growth already projected for the area.  The Transect Master Plan and new Code were adopted September 2005 and received the inaugural national Driehaus Form-Based Code award.


Form-Based Codes

Leander SmartCode


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Leander, TX





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