Keller Citizen

Westlake mayor looks ahead to town’s exciting developments

Westlake Mayor Laura Wheat said the town has big plans for 2014 involving construction at Westlake Academy and the beginning of two new developments on the town’s east side.

Westlake Academy, the state’s only municipally-owned charter school, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013, which Wheat said is a major milestone for the town .

In 2014, the academy will undergo three new construction projects, including a new multipurpose building for younger grades to accommodate dining and physical education, a fieldhouse and a secondary education building.

The projects were approved last year and should be completed before the start of the 2014-15 school year, Wheat said.

“We feel like we’re on a good path,” she said. “This is the first phase of three on the project, and we have no idea when the other two phases will begin, but the discussion is out there.”

Wheat serves alongside Town Council members on the school board. She said she considers Westlake Academy the town’s largest asset. Enrollment at the academy will also increase to 800 students, Wheat said.

Wheat said another big milestone for the town is the upcoming Granada and Entrada developments along the east side of Davis Boulevard and SH 114.

Granada, an 85-acre tract on the southernmost side, will feature 84 custom homes in the $1.2 million and above range. The community will be gated with amenities including publicly accessible trails connecting to the town’s existing system.

Those tracts will undergo large changes in landscaping to beautify the area along Davis and make the town stand out, Wheat said.

“Our vision is that when you drive through Keller or Southlake through Davis, you’ll know when you’re in Westlake,” she said. “It makes my heart sing to see people using those trails, because they will be here for many, many years. It’s going to be a real signature piece for Westlake.”

Wheat said town leaders are focusing on the first half of the tract at the start of this year and hope to see ground broken soon.

“Getting through Planning & Zoning and the Council was a big moment last year,” Wheat said. “Change is hard in any community, especially in an area as beautiful as Westlake, and it’s tempting to expect things will never change. But sadly that’s not the way it works.”

Westlake Entrada, a mixed-use development Wheat expects to start at the end of the year, will be at the northernmost tract of the area on the northeast corner of Solana Boulevard and Davis.

The development will feature office, retail and entertainment facilities as well as single-family residences, condominiums and town homes.

Wheat said the long-term project will develop slowly, but will be a first-class development like Southlake Town Center.

Changes to J.T. Ottinger Road willinclude a safer intersection design and new entrance to Westlake Academy that will make student pick up and drop off easier and will help avoid long traffic backups.

In the area of planning, Wheat said she and the Council have started a steering committee to help revise the town’s comprehensive plan, which was last updated in 1992. The committee members have a wide range of interests, including residents, developers and others, who will work to shape what Westlake will look like in the future.

“There was no wholesale revision since that time,” Wheat said. “Obviously a lot has changed since then and this will be a great opportunity for the public to really be heard.”

The committee has met twice and started the public phase of input this month. The committee’s goal is to make a town plan for future developers, councils and mayors to know what Westlake wants to be like in coming years.

“When we do well, we feel like the town is doing well,” Wheat said. “I think this really is the next phase of life as the town of Westlake.”