Star Riverside Proceeding with Construction

Star Riverside has announced plans to proceed with construction of the first two planned buildings with completion expected in the first quarter of 2010. The project may be the last major condo development to break ground during the current building boom. With tight credit markets and slack demand, most drawing board projects have been indefinitely delayed or cancelled.

Star Riverside Austin Condo

Star Riverside is an Australian-driven development on the south shore of Ladybird Lake near I-35. The $150M project will feature to 64 units in the first phase. According to the developers, the first two buildings will feature large units (2,000SF+) which will be priced from $600K to $1M+. A second phase would offer smaller units starting at as little as 4375K. These offerings do not match, however, with current MLS listings which include 6 units with prices ranging from $345K for a 670 square foot 1/1 to, $517K for a 935SF 2/2, $792K for a 1,280SF 3/2 and $1.34M for a 2,315SF 3/2.

The developers, Constellation Property Group, report that they have lined-up financing for the first two buildings but not for future phases. They hope to raise additional money to complete the remaining buildings by late 2011.

Here is a summary from the Statesman:

The first phase, Star Riverside, will have 64 units in two six-story buildings overlooking Lady Bird Lake. It is expected to be finished in the first quarter of next year.

Prices for the units, all of which will have about 2,200 square feet, will range from the high $600,000s to about $975,000, said Eugene Marchese, president of Constellation Property Group.

The second phase, Revolution Riverside, will have about 140 units in two buildings of nine and 11 stories. Construction is expected to start in mid-2010 and be completed in late 2011, Marchese said.

Those units will be priced from $375,000 to about $650,000 and will have about 1,200 square feet.

Marchese said he has scrapped plans for Star Luxe, an ultra-luxury part of the project that was to have had units of 4,000 square feet or more, priced at $1 million and up.

Nationally and in Austin, "I think we will see the luxury end of the market struggling for at least the next three to five years," Marchese said, adding that the high-end sector is troubled across all industries, from condos to retailing in general.

"I think there's just been a paradigm shift across the world," he said.

Economic outlook: Marchese said he has financing in place for the first phase of his project but not for the second phase. He said he thinks the capital markets, which have largely been locked up, will loosen next year.

Although some real estate experts say the economy hasn't hit bottom, Marchese said: "I think we're seeing the bottom, and we're going to bounce along here for the next six months. And then within 12 months, we'll start to see a definite turn in the overall economy, and the capital markets will follow suit."

BartonPlace Construction Update & Pictures

I walked by BartonPlace on Barton Springs Road today and was shocked at the rate of progress on construction: the 6-story multi-building development has already topped out. In fact, the steel is being put in place to form the project's distinctive curved roofline (the top units actually have 15' curved ceilings -- some are still available). In addition, we received a full construction update from the developers:

- Roof Installation on Buildings 5 and 6 is ongoing.
- Level 6 of Buildings 3 and 4 will be poured next week.
- The entire garage structure is complete.
- Masonry and Window installation on Buildings 5 and 6 has begun.
- MEP and Sprinkler rough-in continues in Buildings 3, 4, 5 and 6.
- Interior Framing in Buildings 3 and 4 has begun.  

In other news, the developers announced that buyers at BartonPlace will receive complimentary Social memberships at Onion Creek Club in southeast Austin. Onion Creek Club has a 27-hole Jimmy Demaret designed golf course as well as other fitness and recreational activities. They also announced and upcoming construction tour at 3:30pm on Sunday, May 3rd (following the taping of Real Estate 101 for 1370AM at Uncle Billy's next door) and a 4PM wrap party at the BartonPlace presentation center. RSVP

Barton Place Austin Condo

BartonPlace Austin Condo

Higher & Higher: Austonian Keeps Going Up

Each week, 55 truckloads of concrete and 50 tons of structural steel are added to the structure of the Austonian, growing what will be the tallest building in Austin by one more floor. This week, the Austonian hit the half-way point -- the 28th floor was poured ad the project continues on its march to completion in 2010.

Since it has been a little while, here are the key facts on the Austonian:

Height of Building: 683 feet; 56 stories

Gross Area Square Feet: 850,000

Total Residential Area Square Feet: 600,000

Total Number of Units: 188

Unit Size: 1,221 to 8,379 square feet

Shared Amenities: Over 40,000 square feet

Price Range: $559,000 to $8M+

Amenities: 24-hour concierge and security services, 24-hour valet service, housekeeping, dry cleaning and laundry services, Lobby-level retail, Secure climate controlled wine storage, Billiard room, 4 Guest suites, Private spa treatment rooms, Screening room with seating for 12, Conference room, Swimming pool, fitness center.

The Austonian under Construction (D’Arcy)

Here is the summary from the Statesman:

Seaholm Redevelopment Inches Forward

One of the most exciting downtown projects is the redevelopment of the decommissioned Seaholm Power plant. The $117.2 million project, a partnership between the city and Southwest Strategies, will result in a 22-story hotel, 60 condo units, and 180,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

This week, the project inched a step closer to beginning construction in 2009 with City approval of a financing scheme to generate revenue for the site preparation and infrastructure enhancements that the site requires. Essentially, the city issued bonds which will be repaid through the incremental property tax revenue generated by the development.

Once complete, the 150,000-square-foot decommissioned power plant will be the centerpiece of the 7.8-acre property across Cesar Chavez Street from Lady Bird Lake. With offices, retail, and at least 3 acres of open space, Seaholm will shift the center of downtown activity to the west. While downtown life used to center around 6th street between Congress and red river, the warehouse district, 2nd street district, and Whole Foods have shifted the balance. With Seaholm, the downtown action will increasingly be centered between Congress, Lamar, 5th, and Town Lake.

The most exciting part of the project is the redevelopment of the Seaholm facility itself. When complete, the art deco structure will include nearly 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurants. Construction will begin 2009, with the final project scheduled for completion in 2011.

Here is a summary from the Austin Business Journal:

The city of Austin approved the creation of a tax increment financing reinvestment zone to pay for public improvements for the Seaholm redevelopment project.

The TIF will be within the area bounded on the west by the planned Seaholm Drive, on the south by Cesar Chavez Street, on the east by West Avenue and on the north by Third Street. . .

. . . Under state law, a tax increment reinvestment zone contributes property taxes from the increase in real property value within the district toward the project’s public improvements. The public infrastructure and power plant rehabilitation will be primarily funded by issuing debt that will be repaid from the tax increment revenue. The TIF has a 30-year duration.

360 Listings Now on Austin Towers

If you are shopping for a downtown condo but are averse to visiting sales offices or speaking with realtors, 360 has been a very frustrating project. They have refused to list units on their website, have avoided the MLS, and generally made it difficult for buyers to engage. With a supposed waiting list of more than 200 buyers for 430 sold out units, many prospective buyers decided it was a waste of time to even call.

Even with residents moving in and with some likely to sell, restrictive covenants have prevented buyers from selling their units. As a result, the 360 mystery has remained intact.

Now,with the project finally complete and the waiting list long ago evaporated, the sales office is finally listing units on the MLS. As always, we have added 360 to our Listings page. Currently, there are 9 listings for units in 360 ranging from $250K for an 812 square foot 1/1 on the 20th floor to $528K for a 1,308 square foot 2/2 unit on the 35th floor. While all units include 10 foot ceilings, oak flooring, 24-hour concierge, and a shared pool and fitness center, some units include upgraded appliances and features.

View the 360 listings here.

Here are additional images from the listings:

BartonPlace Video Commercial

You don’t see many commercials for new condo projects on Austin’s major television stations. While this is unlikely to change, BartonPlace recently produced a profile video on the project that is currently posted on youtube. While the video could use more fancy renderings and images of the units, it’s always interesting to hear real people talk about why they chose the project.

Here is the BartonPlace video: