Fairmont hotel to break ground this October

Fairmont birdseye

When the proposed Austin Fairmont mega hotel project swooped in to the news a couple years ago, snatching the spotlight from the JW Marriot mega hotel, there was a healthy dose of skepticism about it would get off the ground.

A lack of visible activity on the site has been quietly stoking perceptions that the Fairmont will end up anything more than pretty drawings. The site filed a site plan in October 2012, which is still in review, but site plans are never guarantees of construction.

There had also been some chatter that a proposed sky bridge over Waller Creek, connecting the hotel to the convention center, had caused a project-stalling rift between the developer and the Waller Creek Conservancy.

But fret not!

Apparently, Doug Manchester, president of Manchester Texas Financial Group, which is developing the project, told the February monthly meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s Austin chapter, the project will break ground this October, with a 2016 opening date.

(The ABJ reported that Manchester wants to also champion a “major push” to develop the Austin Convention Center into a more competitive convention space to take on the like of San Diego, but that's another story for another day.)

That the president of Manchester talking a big-picture, long-term view and ensuring a room full of people the project will break ground this year is about as much proof as you need to know this is a real project.

With that in mind, it is will remarkable how this project changes the entire scope and scale of Downtown Austin. Besides altering the skyline (the Fairmont will rival the Austonian’s height), this project absolutely transforms one of the major eastern gateways into downtown.

Fairmont South on Red River

Fairmnont Red River - CeChav


For more Fairmont hotel renderings, follow this link to download a PDF presentation from 2012.

Coupled with the SuttonTowers project on the north edge of the Rainey Street District, Austin will literally be unrecognizable in that area compared to what it had been in the past. Before those nostalgic feelings take root, consider: This is all part of a plan, which the community has gotten behind and a lot of careful thinking.

The Rainey Street District is supposed to become a dense cluster of skyscrapers. The Waller Creek district is supposed to become a world-class tourist destination, with a landmark hotel.

Cypress Getting Ready to add to LakeShore Pearl along Lady Bird Lake

Lakeshore-Apartments
Rendering of Lakeshore Apartments courtesy of Big Red Dog


As the Lakeshore Pearl apartment construction wraps up on the south shore line next to Riverside Drive, Cypress Development is prepping the next phase of the Lakeshore PUD development.

The Lakeshore PUD is next door to, but distinctly separate from the SouthShore development, in case you’re confused.

Lakeshore overhead


The next phase of Lakeshore will be a 285,000-square-foot, 282-unit apartment complex, which includes five levels of parking the building will wrap. The site does have one heritage tree, which will be incorporated in the building design.

LakeShore Plot area


The Lakeshore development has been a slow burn, being announced just before the recession, stalling like other projects and changing hands with a number of civil engineering firms, before getting off the ground with Big Red Dog.

Some time ago, Lakeshore PUD development kicked off with construction began on the Lakeshore Pearl, a $20-$30 million project planned for 230 units along Elmont Drive off East Riverside, which is opening now with rents ranging from $800 to $2,300. We’ll expect a comparable rental cost for this development.

lakeshore-austin-rampart


If anything, this development shows that Cypress is certainly keeping the pedal down on Austin multifamily development. In addition to the Lakeshore Pearl, there’s:

  • The University Park Apartments at the Concordia University site, next to St. David’s and I-35 downtown. Its 302 units, average rent of $1,529 a month, with a projected summer 2013 opening.
  • The Corazon TOD development on E. Fifth, next to the train station, which is 262 units with average rents of $1,500 a month. The project would include 13,300 square feet of retail-restaurant space.
  • The Lamar and Manchaca Apartments, which is 318 units, average rent of $1,350 a month, along with 11,700 square feet of retail. Cypress hopes to break ground in March.

Not to mention in 2011, City Council approved (pdf) a 707,414-square-foot mixed-use Cypress development at the 16.24-acre site of the vacant Cinemark Movie Theater adjacent to Barton Creek Square Mall.

It is a relief that Cypress is moving ahead with the Riverside development, even as City Council delays adopting the East Riverside Corridor Zoning Plan, apparently because the fast-food lobby is making a stink about drive-thru’s being barred in the plan. Hopefully, City Council makes good on plans to adopt the Riverside Plan this March 7 and put that silliness behind it.

IBC Bank Tower (Block 51) Set For March Groundbreaking After Delay


prop_IBC_Bank_Plaza_LG_lg_1


In June 2012, Endeavor gave us the first look at the IBC Bank building planned on Block 51 across the street north from the new federal courthouse, which is slated for 13 stories and 195,000 square feet of office (and a little restaurant) space.

When they did, the Statesman reported developers planned to break ground possibly by Christmas last year, which has come and went without fanfare at the site and as development has rolled steadily along in other sites around downtown.

While it’s probably safe to say the project is certifiably delayed, it is like a smoking volcano and certainly not dormant. Last month, the smoke started rising when the developer filed an application to occupy the right-of-way and remove existing power poles along 500 block of San Antonio Street and the alley; and bury telecommunication lines. That application indicates we should see some activity starting in March, and construction lasting through June 2014. (This crane placement diagram was also submitted)

Other clues hint that up to last month the developer and the city were still working on an approved traffic control plan and an erosion plan for site construction. However, just a week ago, a site plan correction presumably resolving these issues with the City was approved.

In one of the documents filed with the City, an engineer writes simply: “The saga continues.”

We’re glad to see this saga is having a happy ending.

Austin Towers, for one, couldn't be more excited for this project to get off the ground, and at the least for this dangerous building on the corner to be demolished.

500 block now


This rendering of the new of the building from the southeast, compared to what is there now, is simply gorgeous and Endeavor gets a hat tip for exceeding what it means to provide realistic renderings of a project that gets the community excited. For anyone who pines for the “old days” before downtown’s redevelopment, we submit this as Exhibit A for why development makes downtown Austin a better place.

prop_Block51_Final_Rendering_LG_lg_1
Point of view from the Plaza Lofts


It’s also great to see a project making the maximum use of the height limit available to it in the Capitol View Corridor, which translates into maximum property tax revenue to subsidize the suburbs pay into the general fund for parks and police. Look at these elevation drawings and not how the building literally butts up to the height cap.

IBC Bank

Development spurring across water from City Hall

The paved no man’s land that occupied the sprawling parking lot next to the former Chamber of Commerce building on the south shore across from downtown Austin is no more.

The Austin Business Journal provides a first look at renderings for the $68 million, 300-unit StreetLights at Barton Springs apartment building taking some of the space and under construction now. Adjacent to the site, AustinTowers has learned the Hyatt Town Lake is removing a substantial amount of surface parking, and instead building a seven-story parking garage and amenities behind the Sherry Matthews building.

At 19 stories, the apartment project will eclipse the Hyatt hotel by about 25 feet. (For reference sake, the Chamber building is seven stories).

This residential project is next iteration of the Aquaterra condominium project, which fell victim to the lending withdraw of the 2008 recession, re-envisioned as apartments. Dallas-based StreetLights Residential is developing the Barton Springs project and the skeleton should start rising in a few months, with completion in late summer next year.

Streetlight vs AqT

The new project is of similar scope to the former Aquaterra vision, both at about 200 Feet, and like 7 Rio – another condo project that died and was reborn as apartments – local architect Brett Rhode is the designer of both buildings. Aquaterra’s first seven floors were parking garage, and its unknown if that carried through in the current design.

Next door at the Hyatt, the hotel owners are building a parking garage, that will also house a 25,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting space. Parking has always been a complete zoo there, and this will hopefully make the area much more inviting for people accessing the boat rentals on the shore, or the hotel proper.

Adding additional amenities to the Hyatt could have something to do with the fact that they were one of two authorized helicopter pads for ferrying people from the Circuit of Americas to downtown, but it could just be a play for more event attendance, given the slew of Austin events these days.

Hyatt Garage

This new development will surely be a game changer for the area, in terms of drawing more foot traffic and retail investment into that are, especially with the RunTex site being redeveloped on the other side of the lot, next to First Street.

It is easy to see, with this happening, a rapid transformation of the entire south shore of the river. Glory is the day that Hooters lot becomes something of community value. (Finger's crossed!!!)

One small point of concern: Anyone who has driven through the labyrinth of cross streets – Riverside, Barton Springs, South First and South Congress – during rush hour surely has felt a sincere frustration at the amount of traffic and high-concentration of intersection lights.

I hope that our city leaders have a plan to accommodate the additional amount of bike, pedestrian and car traffic that will be flowing into this very tiny area.

As it relates to that, though, this new apartment building could have a healthy portion of tenants who work downtown, and therefore might opt to own a bike, but no car, especially when Car2Go stocks a depot a few feet away at the City of Austin administrative tower.

Streetlight at Barton

It’s Alive! Revamped Condo at 1155 Barton Springs In Works

After a court battle with the City of Austin, a battle of wills with the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association and Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the condo project at 1155 Barton Springs is officially back (sort of).

Earlier this month, site plans were submitted showing that a 65-unit condo development is being planned on the derelict site on the south side of busy Barton Springs adjacent to the railroad, McDonalds, and Peter Pan mini golf.

It’s inconclusive, but it appears that the original developer still owns the land and is involved, but that Dallas-based Carleton Development is breathing life back into the project. The project’s original website, 1155BartonSprings.com, never expired, but the site has no information at present and says it is being updated.

The 1155 Barton Springs project has been in the works under various names, including The Milan, since at least 2005. In April 2007, PPT Development announced plans to break ground by that year’s end, with tenants moving in by mid-2009.

Those 2007 plans were grander, it appears, than the current incarnation, and proposed just 24 residential units, ranging from 1,600 to 6,200 square feet, that would list for $1 million to $6 million each.

Original model for 2007 proposal:

model1


Everything screeched to a halt though, after the developer got cross with the city over zoning after complaints from the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association. A deal between the city and developer was later reached, which capped on how tall the building could be. Bad news kept coming the project when, in 2010, it entered bankruptcy.

It is unclear right now whether the architecture of this project is going to change significantly from what initially was shown, but it is probably a safe bet so.

Original rendering:

1155 before


Overland Partners, the original architect out of San Antonio isn’t to be found on the current site plan paperwork. (Although, the project is still listed “on the boards” on the architect’s website.)

Interestingly, Stansberry Engineering Co. remains the civil engineer for the former and current proposals. Stansberry is in the obvious good graces with the city, as the lead engineering firm on the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan­.

Austin-based Co’Design has been retained as the landscape architect, where as the original landscape designer was reported to be Peter Walker & Partners of Berkeley, Calif.

That this project is being rejuvenated is something to be celebrated. The land occupies the long-vacant Treehouse restaurant and nightclub, which looks scary and hideous. The land is already developed, and not contributing any way to the community. A revamped project proposal gives it its first chance in a long time to do just that.

Increasing the number of units – which assumes smaller, more affordable units – compared to multi-million-dollar ones is a smart market bet. Market demand means urban dwellers will gladly pay a healthy six-figure sum to have access to the trails and Barton Springs Pool – not to mention things like Whole Foods and soon Trader Joe’s, now easily accessible via the Pfluger bike & pedestrian bridge, which was absent in 2007.

1155today

Apartment Building “Eleven” Making Fast Progress on I-35

Anyone driving on I-35, past downtown Austin, has surely noticed the progress construction crews are making on the 257-unit apartment complex, called Eleven, across from the Capitol on the east side of the highway.

With all of the apartment construction happening in Austin’s urban core, Eleven hasn’t garnered the same media attention as the downtown high-rise construction. Eleven will be a 3-story and 4-story buildings offering studio, loft, 1 and 2 bedroom units, plus parking. The community will occupy about three acres at the intersection of I-35 and East 11th Street, at the proper address of 811 E. 11 St.

eleven-austin-apartments

The average unit size will be 793 square feet and the project is participating in the Austin energy green building Program. Phoenix-based Alliance Residential Co. will be the operating company.


According to the Spartan website, pre-leasing begins this year. For such a visible project, the development has a complexing and somewhat hidden cyber presence. I suppose the development really markets itself by virtue of its location, but here’s the backstory as to perhaps why its not that well-known.

Site plans for a four-story, 267,000-square-foot multi-family project – known as FMF Robertson Hill (SP-2011-0182C) — were submitted to the city back in 2011 for the same location. The applicant and site owner was BB&T, one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S.

(You’re thinking: “Robertson Hill? That’s the rental building next door, right?” Well, yes, once upon a time. But now AMLI has it, and has dubbed it AMLI Eastside. )

Eleven site plan


So, the site plan is approved in December 2011, then nothing happens until … drum roll … Magic Johnson saves the day!

In May 2012, Magic Johnson’s Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds – which also helped financed the W Austin – puts out a press release that it is teaming with Austin’s Forestar Group on the project and kicking off construction in 30 days. The new team also added another building to house a leasing office, fitness center, business center, community club room.

Which leads to a bonus if you ever enjoyed a glass of wine nearby at Uncorked and thought to yourself, “This is nice, but I’d really like to enjoy this view in a swimsuit."

Magic Johnson did too (not really) and Eleven includes a rooftop deck that will include a resort-style swimming pool, outdoor living area, grilling area and courtyard with bocce ball, chess and a yoga area.

Move Over South Lamar, East Riverside Is The Next Big Thing In Austin Multifamily

The RiverView Austin Apartments, clad with a mix of local brick, stucco, and metal panels, are starting to take shape, and provide a bit of a premonition of what we might see along the much of the E. Riverside strip someday.

The 280,000-square-foot, 302-unit RiverView sits on four acres at I-35 and E. Riverside, on the south shore of the water near downtown. The development has four buildings ranging from five to 11 stories. The initial announcement for the project said it will come online this spring.

When completed, the development will have taken the equivalent of almost 80 acres in a typical single family 'tract style' model of development, but accomplished the same density on a four-acre site.

This is a good thing, and City Hall has actually had gears turning for a long time to reshape East Riverside.

The city is preparing to rezone approximately 1,000 acres near East Riverside Drive, as part of implementing the East Riverside Corridor (ERC) Master Plan, adopted by Council in 2010.

austin-riverview-apartments


The plan calls for four hubs, centered on transit, which could eventually have buildings as tall as 10 to 14 stories in some locations in exchange for the provision of community benefits. The density scales down to three stories as development gets closer to single-family neighborhoods.

One-page overviews of the proposed hubs -- Lakeshore, Pleasant Valley, Montopolis and Gateway -- are available to view.  

Because the East Riverside area is just few minutes from downtown Austin, change is already underway in the area. In addition to the RiverView project, the Lakeshore and South Shore planned unit developments, which will transform about 70 acres along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake east of I-35, are underway. Meanwhile the AMLI South Shore project opened in 2011, and music club Emo’s gave the area a boost when it relocated there last year.

That whole area will also become much more accessible to downtown without a car after Austin’s boardwalk project is completed, since right now the only way to cross I-35 is actually on Riverside, which is not very fun safe attractive on a bike or on foot.

That the city is stepping in to heavily regulate future development on E. Riverside might be irksome for some developers, but I am firmly in the camp that the city really has one shot to make that an incredible place. Without that heavy hand, I fear would happen is a hodgepodge of vanilla development from out-of-town financiers focused on turning a profit and not quality development.

Side note: City voters also approved East Riverside transportation study in 2010 to look at transportation improvements to take place over the coming decade. When those improvements actually happen is anyone’s guess, since they would have to compete with other communities around Austin for funding.

UPDATE: 3eleven Picture Becoming Clear

On the heels of the news that construction of the 3eleven apartments are underway, some more details are now showing up on cpexecutive.com:

• LEED certified
• Residences coming online this October.
• 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail
• 463 parking spaces on floors 1 through 7
• 41,000 square feet of office space on floors 8 and 9
• residences on floors 10 through 35
• Austin’s highest swimming pool
• Catering kitchen
• Residential units will range from 448-square-foot studios to three-bedrooms of more than 2,000 square feet.
• The top five floors will house 35 penthouse units, including three-bedrooms
• Stainless-steel appliances, granite and quartz countertops, solar window shades, hardwood flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, and 8-foot entry and interior doors.
• designed by HKS Architects, of Dallas
• constructed by Harvey-Cleary Builders, of Houston

13 Months After Ominous Heritage Tree Vote, Endeavor Breaks Ground On Bowie Street Project

Back in August, AustinTowers updated you on the new specs for Endeavor’s Bowie Street project, called 3eleven, and said construction would begin soon.

Now it seems construction is indeed underway, according to a recent report in the Austin American-Statesman. The construction timeline is about 24 months.

3eleven-apartments

The project’s fate, in 2011, was in question after the Austin Planning Commission voted 5-4 to protect a 70-year-old Pecan tree on site that had thrived while sprouting from asphalt. (The vote was a great showcase of the ideological and political forces at play in Austin. Former Planning Commission Chair Dave Sullivan also showcased why he had become such a well-respected arbitrator in Austin.)

What’s notable is that despite the handwringing in real estate and pundit groups regarding the issue, market forces (read: the high potential to make a buck) compelled the developers to forge ahead with a remarkably similar project to the one it pitched initially by moving the tree.

3eleven_311_bowie_site

Wedged between the Spring Condos and the Monarch apartments, the initially proposed tower was an office-residential high rise reaching 400 feet high, and that matches the current project breaking ground now, which will have 36 stories with 359 luxury apartments, 42,000 square feet of office space and about 3,400 square feet of retail space.

YNN reports: Crews are going to put the tree somewhere on the east side of the property along Shoal Creek “but moving it will be an expensive, three-month process.”

Michael Lynd, a San Antonio developer who partnered with Endeavor on the project and secured financing told the San Antonio Business Journal the project will be “one of the finest luxury residential rental buildings in all of downtown Austin” and the paper reported the high-rise will have a rooftop garden/dog park on the 10th floor; a sky deck, club room and fitness facility on the 31st floor and a pool on the 36th floor.

3eleven_bowie_west_elevation

So, regardless of what barriers must be overcome in Downtown Austin to develop – whether those barriers are for better or for worse – this project seemingly negates many arguments that Austin’s development policies are scarring away marquee projects. At the end of the day, that could provide the cover for policy makers to make more stringent policy, and enforce it.

As real estate sage Charles Heimsath – who must be the most quoted man in the American-Statesman’s history – told the paper: demand for apartments downtown is “extraordinary” with 97 percent occupied, fetching rents that are more than twice the city average.

New Downtown Austin Federal Courthouse Opens, Exorcises Ghost of Intel Shell

There’s some well-received news this month that Austin’s new Federal courthouse at 5th Street and San Antonio has completed construction and is open for business.

austin-federal-courthouse

A quick tour around the building Sunday night yielded no clues that for the past few years the site has been under heavy construction - certainly neighboring 360 Condos are relieved - and Sunday it was well-lit and inviting with a handful of people strolling around in the nice weather.

KUT has a nice slideshow posted on its Flickr account of the exterior and interior of the seven-story, $123-million building design by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, out of Atlanta, and constructed by our own White Construction, officed in Bee Caves.

What’s exciting for the rest of us not in the legal system is a nice area on the east site of the courthouse populated with benches that will flow well into Republic Square Park. I’m excited about this project lending a daily injection of energy and excitement to the park, and envision clients, lawyers and clerks all enjoying the open space to eat lunch and talk shop.

Maybe a hotdog and coffee vendor will set up shop in the park? Every time I watch Law & Order, the characters share a bite and broker a plea.

For the uninitiated: That site used to be a albatross on downtown, infamously known as the Intel shell, after Intel planted a flag downtown with a $124-million chip design center, but then had second thoughts, leaving only a four-story steel shell and concrete decks. The Feds bought the property from Intel in January 2004 for $8.89 million, and White Construction signed a deal to start preconstruction. In 2006, we got out first look at the design. The Intel Shell bit the dust, literally, in 2007 when it was destroyed, and in 2009 federal stimulus dollars shifted the project into overdrive… then wha-la!

What remains to be seen is what becomes of the former federal courthouse on W. 8th St. That one was built all the way back in 1935, after U.S. Congressman J. P. Buchanan introduced an appropriations measure for $415,000 and well-known Austin architect Charles H. Page drafted up the design. The Art Deco building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is certainly not going to be destroyed. No one seems to know what will be in store for the building, but I certainly hope it doesn’t languish in disuse.

There had been some chatter about a U.S. Patent office taking up residence there, but the local effort to land it was bested by Dallas’s earlier this year.

Maybe with plans stalled for the UT headquarters construction, just a block south of the old courthouse, some clever and well-connected minds will get together to figure out how those historic buildings could be incorporated into a future development, with some more density. That old courthouse is only four stories, ya know. (Nudge, nudge clever and well-connected minds: the GSA's South Central Texas Service Center is the one you should contact to get the ball rolling.)

Seaholm Project Reveals More Details

Hidden on an inquiry form on the Seaholm.info website, the unit sizes are revealed for the 298 planned downtown apartments.

  • 1 bedrooms will range from 659ft to 938ft
  • 2 bedrooms will range from 978ft to 1344ft
  • 3 bedrooms will be 2204ft.

The sizing is typical for downtown condos and apartments. What’s not revealed is how many of each unit type will be built, nor the anticipated pricing.

From the website:

“The apartments will have protected views over the lake, the Texas Hill Country & downtown. All will be luxuriously appointed with high-end finishes. Additional perk - having your neighborhood grocery store be Trader Joe’s!”



seaholm apartment sizes

You can also take a virtual tour of the the project...

Update: 3eleven (311 Bowie Street)

3eleven_bowie

Last month the Statesman reported new details of the 3eleven apartment tower proposed by Endeavor. Above and below are the more recent elevation drawings of the building.

Endeavor’s original proposal to develop the site on the bank of Shoal Creek was shot down by City of Austin Planning Commission on the grounds that a pecan tree on the site should be protected. The Planning Commission was not against the project, per se, just that configuration. The project has evolved into a new design that permits the tree to be moved elsewhere on site. Now, it looks like the project is on track to begin construction soon.

Project Details:

Name = 3eleven
Address = 311 Bowie Street
Number of floors = 37 (26 residential floors)
Building height = 400 feet
Number of dwellings = 358 units
Retail space = 4,268 ft (ground floor)
Office space = 40,684 ft (7th & 8th floors)

The architect, HKS, was also the architect of the luxury Ashton Apartment tower. 3eleven is expected to be a similar luxury-style apartment building.

3eleven_bowie_west_elevation

A recent rendering of 3eleven by HKS Architects

Endeavor_3eleven

Approximate situation of the building between Spring Condos and the Monarch Apartments

3eleven_311_bowie_site

The Whitley: Downtown's Next Apartment Tower

We’ve learned that the apartment tower which had been known simply as “3rd & Brazos”, will operate as The Whitley apartments.

The tower is currently under-construction. Local development firm Riverside Resources acquired the site in 2011 from Poe Companies (recall back in 2008, Poe intended to develop this site into the 21c Museum Residences).

The site consists of a half-block on 3rd Street, between Brazos and San Jacinto streets. The Whitley apartment tower will become part of an evolving Railyard District, a pocket of downtown south of 5th Street, east of Congress Ave.

whitley-hero-1

Many Austin apartment buildings are operating at 97-99% occupancy, creating upward pressure on rents. This high level of occupancy reflects an under-supply of housing in Austin’s urban core. Average downtown Austin rent rates are hovering at $2.54 per foot, per month.

The Whitley’s site plan has evolved slightly since the project was announced, but we expect to see 266 for-rent apartments. Also included is 10,000ft of retail space at the ground level. CBRE is handling the commercial leasing with retail space being quoted at $36ft NNN.

Here are some details of The Whitley:
- Riverside Resources is the developer
- Address is likely 210 E. 3rd Street 301 Brazos Street
- $178,100 ($650 per unit) paid to City in parkland dedication fees
- Height = 196ft’
- Stories = 16
- Number of dwellings = 266

Construction of The Whitley should be completed in spring 2013.

whitley-hero-2

Affordable Housing Development Gets Funding

Located at 11th Street & Trinity, Foundation Communities’ next development will be downtown Austin’s first affordable housing effort since the Lakeside tower was built 40 years ago.

The Statesman is reporting that Foundation Communities will receive $1,100,000 in Federal tax credits over the next 10 years for the project names, Capital Studios. They have also applied for City funding.

Details of the project include:
- 135 efficiency apartments
- rents will range from $400 to $650 a month
- target renter will earn less than $27,000 (roughly half of Austin's median income)
- 10 units reserved for artists and musicians
- cost of construction estimated at $13 million
- Dick Clark Architecture was recruited for the design

The project required the express support of Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association.

There’s discussion of including Car2Go and Austin Bike Share into the streetscape design. If the ideas for programming the ground floor can be realized, this development is a harbinger of successfully integrating dense affordable housing options into downtown Austin.

Capital-Studios-Rendering

Capital-Studios-with-other-buildings

capitol-studios-site

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
here.

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: Read More...

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: