AISD to Sell Downtown Headquarters

AISD has announced that it is putting it's 5-building 128,000 square foot downtown headquarters on the market for $32M. The building could easily be converted to commercial and retail use.

The headquarters building has long created a void on sixth street where its retail-less ground floor occupies a critical block just west of Lamar. The building goes through the block to fifth street.

AISD has decided to sell the buildings to help close a large budget gap. The value of the building has appreciated significantly over the last decade and provides an opportunity for the district to use the gains to close the budget gap without having to cut educational programs. The district has stated that they will only sell the building at the right price.


Top Downtown Austin Condo Projects Report Slow Sales

New data from four of the top five newly constructed downtown condo projects (the Austonian won't release data) suggests that sales have been remarkably slow over the last six months at W Residences, Four Seasons, and BartonPlace and that many buyers who entered into contracts have failed to close. At BartonPlace, for example, 15 fewer units are reported sold or under contract than 6 months ago. Spring, in contrast, has seen a dramatic surge in sales with more than 201 units closed -- more than the other projects combined -- and 14 additional units under contract.

Here is the data:

Now: 215 / 248 units sold or under contract (201 sold & 14 under contract)
Last September: 158 / 248 units sold or under contract
Change: + 57 units sold or under contract

W Residences
Now: 86 / 159 units sold or under contract (40 sold & 46 under contract)
Last September: 84 / 159 units sold or under contract
Change: + 2 units sold or under contract

Four Seasons
Now: 79 / 148 units sold or under contract (68 sold & 11 under contract)
Last September: 77 / 148 units sold or under contract
Change: + 2 units sold or under contract

Now: 139 / 270 units sold or under contract (85 sold & 54 under contract)
Last November: 154 / 270 units sold or under contract
Change: - 15 units sold or under contract

While there are many possible reasons for the weak sales trend, the most likely explanation is that many of the projects saw early contracts fall through. While anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been picking up, financing issues and skittish buyers are apparently continuing to walk from their original contracts.

At the W, the large number of residences under contract is likely due to the fact that not all of the units are ready for occupancy. At Spring and Four Seasons, there is only a small number of units under contract. At BartonPlace, a surprisingly large number of units remain unclosed despite the fact that the project has been completed for quite a while.

Spring continues to do well. With many reasonably priced units, a prime downtown location, and a tall & attractive design, the building has hit the same market sweet spot that led 360 to rapidly sell out. At the current pace, the remaining Spring units will be gone by the end of the year.

54% of Four Seasons Condos Sold

According to the Statesman, the Four Seasons Condominiums has 54% of it's 148 units sold or under contract.

The article reported that:

"In a securities filing, Post said that, as of April 29, 68 units had been sold and 11 more were under contract.

The 32-story Four Seasons is east of the Four Seasons Hotel on Lady Bird Lake.

The units range in price from the $400,000s to more than $4 million.

Post also has a new condominium project in Atlanta. The company said in the filing that once it sells out the Austin and Atlanta projects, it will not launch anymore condominiums but will focus on its core apartment business.

Post is building a $41.7 million apartment complex on South Lamar Boulevard, with 298 units and street-level retail."

Seaholm Becoming Essential Downtown Music, Art, Party Venue

Over the last three weeks, it seems that there has been a different party or event at Seaholm, the decommissioned art deco power plant in the heart of downtown, almost every night.

During the innovative Fusebox arts festival, Seaholm was busy as a music and post-event party venue into the early morning hours. With great lighting and pop-up bars inside and a line of food trailers outside, the large Seaholm main space was often filled with people.

Fusebox Performance at Seaholm (Photo by Paul J. D'Arcy)

While future plans have not been released, the building is slated for use as a community or cultural space as part of the massive redevelopment of the blocks between Lamar and San Antonio just north of the lake. With tight commercial lending requirements, there is no current timeline for redevelopment of the Seaholm or adjacent Green Water Treatment Plan (now decommissioned and demolished) sites.

UrbanOutfitters to Open in Prime W Retail Space

While the W has been open a for a few months, the prime second street retail space under the ACL Moody Theater has remained boarded up. As the center of second street gravity shifts to the W, the large new retail spot is one of the most valuable in Austin.

Now, Urban Outfitters has signed a ten-year lease for the 9,931 square foot space with plans to open a new store soon. The presence of a large well-known retailer will likely increase shopping traffic to the 2nd street district, hopefully benefitting all of the neighborhood's stores.

Also opening is the new Violet Crown theater a block West of the W. The independent theater features 4 screens, reserved seating, a bar & cafe, and free parking.