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