Austonian Dismantles Crane, Throws Party

Over the last few weeks, the Austonian has been slowly dismantling its crane, signaling the beginning of the final phase of construction. With the exterior shell complete and the elevators now fully functional, the Austonian invited hundreds of guests to a private party on the the top three floors of the tower last Friday night.

From floors 54, 55, an 56, I was able to see downtown from a new perspective. Needless to say, the first observation is that the Austonian is really, really, really tall. From the 56th floor, the Monarch looks tiny and the top of the Frost Bank Tower is far below. Even the 44-story 360 tower is much, much smaller. It is so tall that your ears will inevitably pop on the way up and down in the high speed elevators. At night, the city streets stretch out endlessly in almost every direction while the capital glows and the lights of sixth street flash their bright colors.

There will be at least one more opportunity for non-residents to get a look at the amazing view before residents begin moving in June. In May, the Austonian will be the site of the Women's Symphony League of Austin's 2010 Symphony Designer Show house which will be open to the public. It will be a great chance to see what can be done visually with a high end condo.

Photos by
Austonian Austin Condo View North
Austonian Austin Condo View West

Austonian: Sweet Services for Visiting Guests

The Austonian is already the tallest building in Austin. It will have great views and a perfect location on second and Congress.While the project is somewhat pretentious, the Austonian team is working hard to differentiate the project through services. In their latest update, the project team has announced a unique catalog of services and amenities for hosting and entertaining guests.

First, formal dinners may be arranged in home or at the 55th-floor Austonian Club, which offers 360-degree views of downtown Austin, the Colorado River and the Texas Hill Country from the tallest building in the city. The Austonian Club has a private dining room for smaller affairs and a flexible space accommodating up to 200 people.

Rendering: The Austonian Club
Austonian Austin Condo Club

In addition, there are additional outdoor entertaining options on the 10th floor Lawn, including outdoor kitchens, swanky private cabanas with flat-screen televisions and in-pool lounging areas. Indoor entertainment-geared amenities on the 10th floor include a billiard and game room outfitted and a 12-seat screening room.

Rendering: Austonian Cabana & Pool
Austonian Austin Condo Pool and Cabana

One of the great things about high-end downtown projects is that many include rooms for overnight guests. This is huge: it allows residents to purchase smaller units but to still host guests when they need to. In the case of the Austonian, four guest suites on the 10th floor have feature custom bedding, Egyptian cotton sheets, a flat-panel television, a refrigerator and both wired and wireless Internet access. Four separate private terraces offer views of the city and nearby Lady Bird Lake. The guest suites, like the other residences of the building, are supported by a team of Austonian Assistants providing personal service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Suites may be reserved in advance; the only fee is a per-suite cleaning fee.

I am sure there will be more to come as the building nears completion . . .

Austonian Construction Progress
Austonian Construction Photo

Austonian Profiled in Architectural Record

An article published in Architectural Record, the leading national trade publication for architects, provides an extensive profile of the Austonian.

The article reveals new details about the projects green features including it's "Chilled water HVAC" and rainwater collection system. It also talks about the project's high-end touch screen controls for lighting, security, media, and climate which are included with every unit.

Here is the full story:

At 680 feet tall, the Austonian, designed by Houston-based firm Ziegler Cooper Architects, will be the tallest building in Austin when it’s completed in 2010.

Article Continues Here:

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:

Austonian Proceeds: To be Tallest Residential Building West of Mississippi

If you a have unlimited resources, downtown living doesn’t get much nicer than the top of the Austonian. With a top-of-the-line 8,000 square foot penthouse priced at more than $8 million in what will be the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi, few projects are as ambitious as the Austonian.

At a press conference today, media were taken on a tour of the 10th floor of The Austonian, which, when finished, will serve as an urban garden complete with a 75-foot pool, fountains, private cabanas, two outdoor kitchens, two outdoor fireplaces, a secured dog park and wireless Internet.

austonian austin condo press conference

At the event, the developers confirmed that construction of The Austonian, Austin’s tallest building and Texas’ tallest residential high rise building, is on schedule and will be completed at the pace of one floor per week. Under construction at 200 Congress in downtown Austin, the 56-story luxury high-rise condominium project is expected to be complete by early 2010. During construction of the tower, an estimated 500 cubic yards of concrete (about 55 truckloads) and 50 tons of structural steel will go into each level

Here are additional 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.

austonian amenities deck

Austonian Tallest Austin Building Rendering

Austonian Condo Fees Set a New Record!

The Austonian is going to be nice. At 56-stories, it will be the tallest building in Austin. In fact, it would be the tallest residential building in San Francisco. It has a beautiful pool and a dog park with a special doggie toilet.

These luxury features, however, are not free. Units in the Austonian start at $500K and top out at more than $7 million -- more than the selling price of almost any apartment or single family home in the history of Austin. On top of this, residents will pay the highest condo fees of any project in the city -- an amazing $0.64 per square foot per month which equates to almost $1,300 per month for a 2,000 square foot unit.

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions. Prior to the introduction of the W and Four Seasons Residences, the highest condo fees in Austin were $0.40 per square foot and the average was a low $0.34. At $0.64, the fees at the Austonian are the highest in the city. According the sources, the $0.64 fee is actually a reduction from the $0.67 per square foot which was originally offered to buyers.

Here is our updated list of condo fees by project:

Fee by Building - - - - - $ / SF / Month
Avenue Lofts
The Sabine
Plaza Lofts
The Shore
Five Fifty Five Condos
W Hotel & Residences
Four Seasons Residences
.... . . . . . . . .$0.64

Very Expensive Barton Springs Living

Developers just announced plans to proceed with a 4-story, 27 unit development on Barton Springs just east of Lamar. The project is a very odd combination of location and pricing that suggests a lack of experience in residential development.

Here is the summary from the Statesman:

Now called 1155 Barton Springs, the project will consist of a four-story condominium building atop three levels of parking. The building will replace the long-vacant Treehouse restaurant and nightclub at Dawson and Barton Springs roads, which is next to a railroad track.Developers Elisabeth and Steffen Waltz and their partners plan to sell 27 condos for $1 million to $6 million each, well above the price range of the most expensive downtown-area condo projects announced to date.Skeptics may question the prices because of the location. But the developers say several factors set the project apart: It will have large units, from 1,600 square feet to more than 6,200 square feet. The grounds will be designed by the renowned landscape architectural firm Peter Walker & Partners of Berkeley, Calif.The building's concrete and sound-proofing insulation will minimize noise from the railroad.And its location near cultural and arts venues, including the future Long Center for the Performing Arts, is expected to appeal to arts patrons.

This project does not sound viable as planned. With prices starting at $625 / SF, it is 25% more expensive than the next highest price proposed project - the beautiful Pelli designed 5th & Congress project. And with a location on the south side of busy Barton Springs adjacent to the railroad, McDonalds, and Peter Pan mini golf, it's not a top location. And with units priced as high as $6 million, it's clear they have not done their research. There are almost no residential sales over the last five years of houses above $5 million -- that is a price point that just does not exist in Austin. Maybe, the Austonian can sell a crazy penthouse for $6 million - but it is not going to happen on the fourth floor of this project.

The Austonian: Crazy Luxury?

Today's Statesman brought to light new details on the planned 55-story Austonian:

The Austonian, the swanky 55-story condo tower planned for Second Street and Congress Avenue, is pulling out the stops on amenities. The bathrooms will have marble walls; the kitchens will have Italian cabinets and built-in cappuccino machines, and 54th floor lounge will have a catering kitchen. A 10th floor "urban garden" will include a lap pool, billiard room and outdoor movie screen. It also will have a dog park with a scented, self-cleaning doggie toilet — just the thing for pampered high-rise pooches. Prices will range from $550,000 to $3.8 million and higher than that for buyers who create a custom unit on the three highest floors. "We knew what the standard was, and we wanted to blow it out of the water," said Laura Gottesman, whose firm, Gottesman Windham Real Estate, is marketing the units.

The market remains unproven for super-high-end projects -- it will be interesting to see whether there is enough demand to make the Austonian successful.

Is this the Future Austin Skyline?

With more than a dozen high-rise projects currently in the planning or construction phases, Austin's skyline will change fast. This composite image (source unknown) provides a sense of the scale of the different projects. Note that the Congress Condos has been renamed the Austonian and is currently planned at 55 stories -- about the height of the Tom Stacy project at 5th and Congress. The Frost Bank Building, sometimes referred to as the world's largest nose hair trimmer, will no longer dominate the Austin skyline.

Future Austin Skyline