47-Story "Planetarium" Tower Proposed Near Capital

A new development partnership is proposing a 47-story condo tower, science museum, and planetarium for a site just north of the Capital. The site, which is not limited by capital view corridor restrictions, is owned by the State and part of a program to develop under-developed state-owned lots. The project is a proposal and had not been reviewed or accepted by the State committees evaluating use of the land.

According to the developers, "A state-of-the-art science and technology museum, with the largest planetarium in Texas, will be the newest addition to Austin’s Museum District.

Planned to be built on State land across the street from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art, the proposed 157,000 square foot facility will include the largest planetarium in Texas, a full-spectrum interactive science museum, and a technology center showcasing Texas innovations and ingenuity. The development of a science complex at this location will solidify a Museum District for Austin, increasing visitation to the surrounding museums and adding a tourist destination just blocks from the State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin Campus.

Rendering of the Proposed Planetarium Tower
Austin Planetarium Tower Proposal 47 Stories

Rendering of the Proposed Science Museum & Planetarium
Austin Planetarium and Science Museum

In a joint effort, the Austin Planetarium, a nonprofit with the goal of building a world-class science and technology museum in Austin, and KUD International, a private sector development firm, have submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Texas Facilities Commission for a ground lease on the property located at North Congress Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This innovative public-private partnership will create a development that also includes a 47-story residential tower, restaurants, a gift store, retail space and over 1000 underground parking spaces, meeting the mixed-use and high-density vision of the State of Texas for that location. “This partnership is the opportunity we have been working very long and hard to achieve,” states Executive Director Torvald Hessel, “by attracting a major international development firm, we have shown that, as a grassroots organization, we can do this."

The total cost of the development is estimated at $240 million, which includes $95 million for the science and technology museum. So far, funding for a third of the museum’s cost has been identified, thus offering confidence to bring in additional donors and investors. The development will attract over 600,000 annual visitors and will create more than 650 full and part-time jobs to the area, over $10 million in tax revenue over 10 years, ground rents for the State, and $60 million in annual economic impact. Furthermore, through its presence in the Capital City, it will serve as point of pride for the City and the State alike.

The Planetarium will continue its fundraising activities while the State considers the proposal for the site. If the proposal is accepted by the State, it is expected that the process will take approximately a year and that construction will begin shortly after an agreement is finalized.