Friends of the Grove

Getting the most out of rare time off the corporate VPN so I can actually post here.

There’s an interesting bit of symmetry in the Friends of the Grove / .BCRC battle that some of you might not be aware of. Jason Meeker was one of the key figures in Responsible Growth for Northcross six or eight years back. The group that made up their own plan and pushed it as the ‘alternative, urban vision’ for the property, instead of the Walmart (which was originally supposed to be a 2-story ‘urban’ (ish) design (with parking deck)).

They (RG4N) were dead wrong on the merits - you can’t try to get involved in a site planning process (normally administrative approval) just because you don’t like a new tenant (the mall had sufficient zoning for several Walmarts had they wanted to). They still cost the city about a million dollars in legal fees defending city code (and made me and several other people hold our nose and publically support Walmart, who I generally loathe).

The funniest thing, though, is that one of the people who was on ‘our side’ (Me, Chris Bradford, Shawn Shillington; it was this writing at this time which ended up contributing to our 3-headed Austin Chronicle award for “Best Urbanist Echo Chamber”) at the time - making absolutely correct points in the comments about how the neighbors had no legal right to stand on and how they didn’t get to plan the developer’s project for them?

Chris Allen.


So that’s kind of why I haven’t gotten involved in the FotG fight in a nutshell.

Chris Bradford and I still have content up from those days if you look through our archives. Shawn’s writing at the austinist is mostly gone unless you’re good at navigating the Internet Archive.

Just thought some might find this interesting.

1 Like

A thought: we’re not trying to have a BCRC vs FoTG battle. FoTG is not here to create a fight against BCRC, but instead voice support for responsible urban infill. Actually, both groups believe they’re fighting for the same thing. What we do not share are our very different opinions of what responsible urban infill development looks like.

The two groups have different views and people with different views need different representation. I see the same thing with ANC and FAN. FAN cannot exist because we’re against ANC, but instead because we want to organize with other individuals that share our views. I know many on this forum will hate admitting it, but ANC wants the same thing FAN wants: a better Austin. We just disagree on what “better” looks like and how to get there.


Just to be clear, this was intended as a cautionary tale on many levels, the primary one being that I wouldn’t trust Meeker’s (and thus Milestone’s) urban bona-fides.

1 Like

Fair enough. I wanted to make it clear that we’re not out to pick a fight with another neighborhood group.

Please know that I’m not participating in this process because I trust or support any specific individual. This is about Austin and setting a precedent for future changes to the urban core. It would be very unwise for me to avoid voicing my opinion on a massive change to my neighborhood because of one individual.