The future of the city of Cedar Park is a function of its rich and successful past. From its humble beginnings in 1873 as a family settlement for the Cluck family, Cedar Park continues to evolve and grow as it nears the 150th birthday of its founding and its 50th birthday as an incorporated city.
The city, which at one time sat astride the Austin and Northwestern Railroad, and later served as a quiet stopping point along the way from Austin to the Texas Hill Country, has certainly come of age in the last several decades. In 1980, Cedar Park had a mere 3,474 residents, and as recently as 2000, that number was 26,049. As we now sit on the eve of the 2020 census, it is very likely that the population of Cedar Park exceeds 80,000. Just during the 14 years I’ve lived in Cedar Park, the population has grown by nearly 35,000 residents. Over the next 15 years, the city is estimated to add another 35,000, topping off at around 105,000-110,000.
From dirt and gravel roads rose U.S. Highway 183 and the emergence of commerce along what became Bell Boulevard. As businesses moved away from selling cedar posts and stone from the local quarry, the local economy grew and with it, so did the needs of the community. Despite its rapid growth, Cedar Park has relatively low property tax rates (currently the lowest in 22 years), a low crime rate, award-winning first responders, and it consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in Texas.
The Cedar Park of today boasts strong livability, with plenty of green spaces for recreation, hike and bike trails, as well as its own lake. In addition, the city has a thriving retail climate and ample entertainment options for the entire family. Cedar Park has a flagship regional medical center, some of the very best schools in Texas, and community leadership embodied by a thriving Chamber of Commerce, visible and active local major employers, and well-established, locally-based nonprofits who embody the effervescent charitable heartbeat of Cedar Park citizens.
Over the last 20 years, Cedar Park’s economic development efforts have added close to 9,500 local jobs with a net economic impact of more than $16.5 billion. Our city’s exceptional business climate represents many industries, and the pride of the commercial sector is our innovative and community-focused small business entrepreneurs.
Looking ahead, the Cedar Park of the future has something for everyone. If you want family activity, live music, sports, dining, a place to stay, or even just some peaceful quiet downtime, you can find it within the 25-square-mile boundary of the city.
We have a first-class entertainment facility — the HEB Center — which hosts concerts, entertainment for young and old, as well as sporting events. Cedar Park is home to both the Texas Stars hockey team and Austin Spurs basketball team — both of which have recently won championships in their respective leagues. In addition, sports enthusiasts will soon be able to enjoy climate-controlled indoor soccer and hockey, as well as playing surfaces for a dozen other sports at the 240,000 square foot Crossover athletic lifestyle and entertainment complex.
For live music, there are plenty of popular entertainment venues such as the Haute Spot, which draws crowds from all over Central Texas. You can also find outdoor enjoyment at the music series in Milburn Park, Jazz and Art on Main, movies in the park, in addition to the local Arts & Crafts festival.
Cedar Park is about family and community. The city’s heart and soul are on full display during the most popular annual events, including the celebration of the holiday lighting of the Heritage Oak Tree, the always contemplative Veterans Memorial Ceremony, and the famous Fourth of July parade and celebration.
Cedar Park has many exceptional hotels for guests and gatherings, and you can also find many fine dining options in Cedar Park across a wide variety of cuisine to satisfy everyone’s palate. Some of our longstanding popular restaurants have fantastic stories to tell and have been serving multiple generations of residents. For the adult beverage enthusiast, Cedar Park is home to some of the best local brews and wine in Central Texas.
The Cedar Park area is also home to many beloved and homegrown retail concepts, with something to please even the most discriminating shopper. People come from far and wide to shop Cedar Park and find many options in and around the city, including 1890 Ranch, nearby Lakeline Mall, and the easily accessible Round Rock Premium Outlets. Cedar Park provides an easy and convenient launchpad to visit not only our sister cities of Round Rock, Georgetown, and Leander, but also the beautiful Highland Lakes — including Lake Travis — and the serene Texas Hill Country.
Cedar Park’s significant investment in parks will benefit future generations to come. Our city has more than 1,000 acres of parkland and 40 separate parks, including the Cedar Park Sculpture Garden, our signature Veterans Memorial and Park, as well as Cedar Bark Park — a park just for dogs. The city also maintains the Brushy Creek Sports Complex, where you can be active in a number of sports leagues.
Most of our local parks are connected through hike and bike trails, which were partially funded through sales tax dollars. In addition to the scenic Brushy Creek Lake Park on the east side of the city, outdoor enthusiasts will soon be able to enjoy the forthcoming 200-acre Lakeline Park, which will feature a multi-purpose pavilion for performing arts, a playground, great lawn, kayak launch, fishing pier, pavilions of varying sizes, multi-purpose practice fields, and wildflower meadows.
You can just imagine the excitement and activity in our public spaces with these fantastic amenities: music in the park, a casual stroll along the trail, cycling with friends, or a solemn kayak adventure with only the ambient distant sound of birds and children playing in the background … our active population in motion!
The ongoing Bell Boulevard redevelopment is the largest and most comprehensive project undertaken to date by Cedar Park. The multi-year project will greatly revitalize an area of the city that was once a vital hub of the community. Encompassing 50 acres, the so-called Bell District will be a master-planned, mixed-use development including 16 acres of green space, the City’s new library, a park and social hub, restaurants, retail, and residential housing facilities. The master plan specifically calls for Bell to be one of the flagship gathering spots for residents and visitors alike. Picture yourself reading a book on a sunny afternoon, sitting outside at a restaurant, sipping on your favorite beverage with the sounds of an active community all around you. That is what the Bell District will offer.
In a few years, Cedar Park will have a truly unique opportunity to also revitalize the rock quarry on the western side of the city. Although visioning for this redevelopment is not yet complete, future residents may be able to enjoy a development similar to the quarry project in San Antonio.
Finally, the forthcoming Indigo Ridge project is a transformational $2.5 billion development on the northeast side of the city which will become home to the Texas division of the U.S. Tennis Association. Similar to the massive Domain development in Austin, the project, when completed, will have social gathering spots and will add dining, hospitality, retail, and entertainment options for residents and guests to the city.
The vision for the future of Cedar Park is extremely bright. As we continue to expand and fill out our current land area, residents will notice more innovative building design, more master-planned, mixed-use development, and more projects emphasizing walkability, social gathering, green space, and opportunity for family activity.
Cedar Park will continue to be a place people will want to work and do business. I expect the city will continue to add high-paying jobs and employers in key areas, such as technology and healthcare, and should continue to rank as one of the more educated cities in central Texas — also ranking high as a hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, and community involvement. Our treasured nonprofits should continue to lead the way in defining a culture of compassion and giving, providing a collaborative social safety net to benefit those less fortunate.
The one-time bedroom community continues to evolve into a true destination spot for activity and commerce, and a safe, happy, and supportive place to raise a family. In the years to come, Cedar Park residents will be able to live, work, and play in a city which warmly embraces all three.
The identity of Cedar Park will be defined over time by these and many other distinctly positive developments. City leaders, interested citizens, and the business community will all have an important role in this process as stakeholders in the legacy we wish to leave behind for the next generation.
I love our Cedar Park.