The developers behind the long-awaited Backyard Project in Bee Cave are preparing to start construction, and small groundwork can be expected on site in the next few weeks after the infrastructure permit is formally approved. The project is scheduled to open in early 2024.

The preliminary site plan, approved last month, envisages an amphitheater with a capacity of 3,700 people, a 73,000 square meter retail complex, two parking garages, office space and a hotel. The plan also includes an expansion of the newly constructed Willie Way.

The original backyard opened in 1993 as a venue for 5,000 people in Texas 71 and RM 620. Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Willie Nelson were among the hundreds of acts to perform on this stage. The venue was known for its idyllic location with lots of green and excellent sound. It closed in 2008 but reopened in 2010 with a capacity of 7,000 people at 13801 Bee Cave Parkway. This venue was closed in 2014.

This new project was put on hold for several years because Bee Cave required developers to meet the terms of a 2014 development district ordinance, including a condition that required the construction of a road connecting the development to 71 Texas. The requirement was added due to concerns from Bee Cave City Council and local residents that the development could bring more traffic to the Bee Cave Parkway.

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In the spring of 2019, the project was pushed forward with the adaptation of the site plan and its building standards by the city council. The developers also agreed to drop lawsuits they had filed against the city about the project’s freeze.

The Backyard has four planned phases of construction: the first includes roads, major utilities, a hilltop garden, and landscaping for the median of the Bee Cave Parkway between RM 620 and Texas 71, which was part of the original development agreement.

This phase will begin shortly once all necessary permits have been obtained. Christi Van Rite, co-developer of the project at JPD Backyard Finance, said they are not planning a major groundbreaking event.

“This project had too many false starts,” she said. “We’d rather show people the evidence in the actual work and that it goes ahead when they start seeing bulldozers out there.”

The second phase of construction includes most of the buildings on site as well as some of the landscaping. One of the parking garages under construction at this stage will be open to the public for access to Central Park outside of event hours.

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Even before the first phase of construction begins, the builder has submitted architectural plans for the various aspects of the backyard to the beehive planning and development commission and the city council in order to obtain pre-approval and ensure that everything is allowed in the city zoning. The two car parks were recently visited by the Commission and will be examined by the Council next week.

“There are a lot of plans and a lot of specs, so we’ll just do it a little bit at a time so it’s not so overwhelming,” said Van Rite.

Other parts of the project, including the venue, will go through this pre-approval step later this year or early next year. Van Rite said she expects to file building permits for the on-site structures in the second quarter of next year.

“I expect you’ll see a lot more after the first of the year,” she said