The owner of Skillman Live Oak Shopping Center is dropping its request to close La Vista between Skillman and Live Oak, according to consulting firm Masterplan. That means Matt’s Rancho Martinez is back on track to open soon.

The city informed some neighbors about a week ago that the Austin-based owner, Stonelake Capital Properties, wanted to close the block, which is adjacent to Matt’s. The company wanted to buy that block from the city and use it as a promenade.

That news launched neighbors, already at odds with Stonelake over a zoning case, into action. City Council member Angela Hunt asked code inspectors to check on the construction at the new Matt’s. While the interior was fine, code inspectors found slight differences between the submitted plans for a patio and the actual patio that was under construction, and they gave it a red tag.

Since Matt’s is leasing an easement from the city to build the patio on the La Vista side, the restaurant owners decided to cease construction immediately. They were afraid the city would end their temporary lease or ask them to tear up and redo work on the patio. This is the largest construction project the owners, Stella Martinez and her son Matt Martinez III, have ever undertaken. They expect it to cost about $1.5 million. The company also has paid about $200,000 in payroll to keep employees at work in other stores since the old Matt’s closed in February.

The Martinezes said they felt like the children of divorced parents, caught between Stonelake and neighbors.

But then Stonelake backed off on the La Vista abandonment plan, which by the way, Matt’s owners first found out about from neighbors. And the city has given their construction work the green light.

The patio adjacent to Matt’s has eliminated three parking spaces, says Matt’s director of operations Brian Marsters. But the restaurant still has more spaces than are required under zoning rules.

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