Developer has big dreams for Liberty Hill
By Christine Bolaños
A place where children can run free along big oak trees under the bright sun and clear blue skies while parents chat and watch over them.
A place where someone can walk to their back porch, sit down with a cup of coffee and take in the scenery, even when home is an apartment.
A place where families can enjoy frozen delights while catching up on some quality time.
These are projects that developer Chris Pezold envisions in Liberty Hill and is hard at work making happen.
“If you can make something that makes people smile it’s huge,” Pezold said. “It’s creating a quality of living environment that’s conducive to the environment.”
Though his endeavors are all for profit, his main goal is to build something long-lasting and high impact that will bring the community a sense of pride and belonging. He has achieved this in central Texas before but believes Liberty Hill, a small town about to experience major growth, could really use apartments, family-friendly hang-outs and parks. All of his projects, such as the apartment complex on Stubblefield, the Central Park development and Liberty Chill, will help meet those needs and connect neighbors with each other.
“For me it’s seeing people embrace downtown,” Pezold said. “Where they move on foot and are more likely to run into their neighbor because they’ll have places where they can go and interact.”
Pezold is responsible for the large water features at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the Liz Carpenter Fountain at Butler Park as well as development in and around the W Hotel and the Austonian in downtown Austin.
He is especially proud of the interactive splash pad because of the joy it brings children. Pezold has worked in development and construction for about 20 years. He entered the industry almost by accident.
He and his wife were expecting their firstborn and they both decided he needed to find a stable job with decent pay. So, Pezold, who dropped out of college where he was majoring in computer science and math, left his dream job in the Caribbean to make a home back in the United States.
After a long stint in construction he decided to open up Liberty Bike Café, which he operated for about three years. The custom motorcycle shop, specializing in vintage café racers with an emphasis on air cooled BMWs, has been dormant for about a year now. The endeavor allowed him a more flexible schedule once one of his three sons became ill.
His wife, Casey, encouraged Pezold to get back into the development and construction business.
A childhood friend and successful businessman reached out to him about partnering together on some Liberty Hill-based projects. Though Pezold abstained from mentioning his partner’s name, he did say they both have high hopes for the future of Liberty Hill.
“He said, ‘What do you believe in?’ and I said, ‘I believe in Liberty Hill and I believe in what’s happening here,’” Pezold said.
He said Liberty Hill is the perfect size where developments such as the project he’s taking part in can make a difference.
“With my energy and his financial support we’ve put together some really good projects,” Pezold said. “That will lead to great living conditions. Ultimately, we want to be part of downtown revitalization.”
He sees downtown Liberty Hill as a jewel.
“It’s something that I know at one time was the center for the community,” Pezold said. “I have kind of a romantic idea to see that come back as the center of the community. Where people walk on sidewalks and take strolls in the evening. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The potential of Liberty Hill is due in great part to its unique characteristics.
The idea for the apartment complex is to have two-bedroom, one-bath units with a utility room and a unique back porch.
“If Liberty Hill was really successful in the 40s, that’s what that block would look like,” Pezold said.
Massive trees adorn the complex and there is enough land available for a sizeable park for use by the apartment community.
“This is all money made here in Texas and we wanted to go in and have something that’s a really neat, outdoor living space,” he said.
He plans to incorporate landscape lighting that will provide an extra aesthetic touch at night.
“It’s a real neat piece of property,” Pezold said.
He began developing the apartments about four months ago. There will be 54 apartment units and the project encompasses nearly six acres.
“The back porches are all private with concrete roofs on them,” he said. “Right now Liberty Hill needs apartments so bad.”
He believes Stubblefield will offer a nice living option to residents.
Pezold believes the half acre where Central Park is located is the best in all of Liberty Hill. The Central Park subdivision will be built on two acres of the Henry Fields Survey No. 233 on Munro and Grange streets.
Pezold, who is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, is planning to dedicate 0.6 acres of the land for a park.
He envisions sidewalks connecting the downtown area where a resident at the Stubblefield Apartments can walk to Central Park or Liberty Chill and enjoy and relax themselves over the weekend.
“It’s a unique small town feel that’s being developed right,” Pezold said.
The design will provide a balance where there is still some natural charm amid new homes being built in town.
He also plans to incorporate landscape lighting at Central Park.
“I’m hoping it’s a whole park feel,” he said.
He’s designing the projects in such a way where the lights will not bother drivers and residents. He said it is really important to keep as many of Liberty Hill’s longtime residents content with the town’s additions.
“I’m sure we’re not going to make everyone happy, but I think at the end of the day it’s going to make people happy,” Pezold said.
He plans on installing big stone blocks that people can sit on.
“For reflection, hang-out-under-the-trees kind of park,” Pezold said.
Central Park will incorporate homes that will be built and then sold. Pezold is not sure if he will develop both the land and homes at this point, or if he will sell the land, and let another builder take over the houses.
“If we do sell this, whoever purchases this, they’ve got to go in and adhere to that vision,” Pezold said.
There will be 18 homes with 0.6 acres dedicated to the park.
“Preserve this space for everyone to enjoy and hang out under the trees,” he explained.
The Liberty Chill will allow people to enjoy free movies in the park, have access to Wi-Fi internet, and enjoy ice cream.
“Every weekend we’re going to have barbecue pits and every weekend is an adventure in barbecue,” Pezold said. “You’ve got new people out there and we just sell the drinks and the ice cream and provide a venue for the people to get together.”
The Liberty Chill is a play on “Liberty Hill,” and a concept brainstormed in part, by Pezold’s son, Austin, and Austin’s friends. Austin Pezold is a junior at Liberty Hill High School.
“The idea is to hopefully get some foot traffic downtown,” Pezold said.
The boys want to own and help run the business. Pezold would like to launch the ice cream shop located off Loop 332 within the next few months.
“There’s a water tower that was actually built with horse-drawn carts that pulled aggregate from the blue hole,” Pezold said.
He approached the Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation to tell them he did not want to cheapen the water tower and area history with advertising. Instead, he wants to anchor it as a southern entrance to Liberty Hill.
“Let’s look at doing a contest with local artists or students so people can come to Liberty Hill,” Pezold said.
At the time he brought it up to EDC board members he said they seemed excited about the idea. However, he cautioned, it is a work in progress.
The area where the movie would be shown is anchored by a large pecan orchard. He envisions showing old family-friendly movies.
As Pezold — who also has two other sons, Canton and Joseph — puts it, these development projects are in line with his belief.
“It’s an ethical profit,” he said. “Almost as important as your profit is you want something that you’re proud of.”