First Look at 48 East: Rainey Street’s Newest Tower

First Look at 48 East: Rainey Street’s Newest Tower


The newest high-rise coming to Austin’s Rainey Street District has made the move from renderings to reality.

Developers have officially filed site plans for 48 East confirming a 35-story, 246-unit apartment building at 48 East Avenue, which will deliver protected views of the rising and setting sun.

48 East Birdseye

Specifically, the project will have:

  • 169 x 1-bedroom units
  • 64 x 2-bedroom units
  • 6 x 3-bedroom units
  • 11,250 square feet of ground floor retail

All-in-all we’re looking at about 267,750 square feet of development. No word yet on when ground will break or units will become available for early reservation.

48 east elevation 2

A couple of weeks ago, Austin Towers tipped you off that the design of the building had gone from “blah” to “bam” after the developer switched architects to STG Design.


The newly filed architectural plans confirm that the “bam” design is locked in, and are rather striking. In a stroke of marketing genius, the building will look the best when driving by caught in traffic on I-35.

While more details emerge about 48 East, the “other” Rainey Street District tower, 70 Rainey, is still expected to happen.

48 east elevation 1

Downtown News ROUNDUP

Downtown News ROUNDUP

pressler at cesar

70 Rainey construction deal brokered

Renderings by Page Architects

Renderings by Page Architects

Austin City Council has cleared the way for 70 Rainey condos— a 35 story, 160-unit residential high rise in the Rainey Street District — to move forward with construction this November.

For the past couple of years the site has hosted several mobile food vendors, serving thousands of pedestrians walking on Rainey Street. With the Mexican American Cultural Center located immediately west of the building site, 70 Rainey’s west facing residences will offer amazing views of the lake and hill country.

The Council action allows for 64 Rainey to be used for construction staging for 2+ years and thereafter to be converted into park land.

All in all, this is a pretty good situation considering some of the consternation surrounding the future of 64 Rainey back in 2013.

Location of 70 Rainey showing clear views of Lady Bird Lake

Location of 70 Rainey showing clear views of Lady Bird Lake

48 East luxury apartment project ups ante with new design

About a year ago, new broke that a 35-story luxury apartment building was on tap a stone’s throw from the Skyhouse apartments in Rainey Street.

Architect STG Design has posted some new and exciting renderings that show a glass encased building that compliments the neighborhood.

A previous rendering was leaked to the media when news broke in 2013, attributed to Levy Architects, which is still posted online. Despite the discrepancy, the STG Designed building clearly has “48 East” emblazoned on the facade, which certainly look better than the original designs.

A site plan was submitted this month to the city, which means more details should be forthcoming soon.

New lakeview residential project at Pressler and Cesar Chavez?

Austin area developers appear to have a new multifamily project planned on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, according to city records.

Two site plans have been submitted for 300 Pressler and 315 Pressler.

This area of downtown flies by the casual onlooker, but when the City of Austin completes an extension connecting Pressler Street to Cesar Chavez (in 2018 at the earliest) it will become much more visible.

And attractive for development.

pressler at cesar

I’ll be interested to see what the renderings look like for this building. The same company — FMF Pressler Park LLC — has consolidated ownership of the parcels in play. The parcels’ history is also connected to Central Texas developer Larry Peel, so the properties may be be reminiscent of some of his other projects if he is still involved.


Travis County Courthouse Proposal Still Missing Details

Travis County Courthouse Proposal Still Missing Details

austin travis county courthouse header

The Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously voted earlier this month to place the fate of their new 14-story downtown courthouse in the hands of voters. This past winter, I took a strong stance against the Courthouse occupying prime real estate in Austin to build a silo of a structure that in no way relates to the neighborhood it will inhabit.

Suffice it to say: I recognize the current courthouse is overwhelmed and under-equipped.

[Read more…]

Visuals: Austin Convention Center Expansion

Visuals: Austin Convention Center Expansion


Last week Downtown Austin Blog highlighted the Austin Convention Center expansion occurring at the Austin Convention Center.

This week, we’ve got new image renderings that represent a long-range master plan for the Convention Center.  The vision is truly to create a “Convention Center District” at a cost of $400 – 600 million not including the cost of the dirt.


[Read more…]

“Fourth &”: Micro-loft condos heading to East Austin, open slated for Fall 2016

“Fourth &”: Micro-loft condos heading to East Austin, open slated for Fall 2016


A micro-loft condo development at Fourth & Chicon is in the works, and expected to be completed in Fall 2016. The project teases to be an affordable option to more expensive downtown area dwellings.

Situated on 2.1 acres east of the Plaza Saltillo development and MetroRail station, the Fourth& project is expected to include about 130,000 square feet of live/work condominium units, and street level commercial space. When completed, the project will be among the largest single mixed-use developments in East Austin, with 97 condo units and another 42,000 square feet of commercial space.

This looks to be a quality project, and the developer — Capsa Ventures — seems to be working hard to carve out a niche for creating sustainable urban projects. Previous projects include Pease Place on Enfield Road and 904 West, at 9th & West Avenue.

So far, Fourth& is the only building in East Austin to offer micro-loft condominiums. Traditional “micro-unit” housing is about 300-400 square feet (about the size of a 1-car garage), and Fourth& is pushing the limits of the label, with units starting at 512 square feet. The project will also have larger sized units, reaching 1,400 square feet.


The building’s design and PR team is emphasizing the building’s micro-lofts, green architecture and efficient building… practicality over “needless sprawl.” The walkable location is near commuter rails and the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, so it will be easy to explore nearby or to move about the city.

Prices are expected to start at $235,000 for a studio, all the way up to $600,000 for bigger units. That may sound expensive when taken at a price per square foot, but considering the alternatives for downtown area living, it will be attractive for people who would otherwise be priced out of market.

According to news reports, the micro-lofts will still offer gas stoves, stainless steel appliances, LED lighting and European cabinetry. Among the amenities offered include reserved and guest parking, a dog wash, and an amenity deck with outdoor grills and a conference room with smaller meeting rooms for residents who work from home and want a change of scenery.

Fourth& continues to add to a major area redevelopment along the East Fourth street corridor, beyond the Plaza Saltillo development. Adjacent to the Fourth& site, Eastside Station, a 300-unit luxury apartment building is slated to opening late 2015. And across the street, the Arnold Oil Redevelopment (pictured below) is underway on a three-acre lot, with a proposed 90,000 square feet of office space and 330 apartment units.


Arnold Oil Redevelopment

South Congress development heating up

South Congress development heating up


South Congress Avenue, one of the most popular destinations for weekend strolls for residents and visitors alike, is slowly but steadily redeveloping — including a new, yet unannounced boutique hotel, just South of Oltorf.

The big South Congress news reported this week is an $8 million office, retail and condominium development planned behind Guero’s Taco Bar at South Congress Avenue and West Elizabeth Street.

Reports indicate 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, double that amount of office, and a smattering of condos. The South Austin development is still in the design phase, but if it comes to fruition, it would replace Eco-Wise and Vulcan Video, behind Guero’s.

At the same time, is the first to tell you about a Chicago-based boutique hotel that is replicating itself in South Congress, just south of the Oltorf intersection, called the Guesthouse.

From Dawson Neighborhood Assoc.

From Dawson Neighborhood Assoc.

The site planned for construction is the dormant Taste of China Express at 2510 South Congress, next to where the Blockbuster used to be, which is now a laundromat. The Taste of China closed sometime in 2014, unsurprisingly, and we’re excited about the energy this classy boutique hotel would bring to the scene.


china 1

The Guesthouse Hotel project is comprised of 1.5 acres, and expected to be three to four stories tall, along a narrow, long footprint. There will be a terrace overlooking a courtyard, parking, and landscaping, as well as a pool and event center with associated cabanas and breezeway.

The Guesthouse motto is “live like a local,” and developers have been actively presenting to neighborhood associations this summer. This is an indication that the project is past the conceptual phase and on its way to a site plan submission.


The Guesthouse is being designed by local Levy Architects which has a couple of small multifamily projects also in the works on South Congress, including a three story project across from Penn Field at 3110 South Congress.

Meanwhile, the South Congress Hotel is on track to host its first guests this September in the lot that once held a much-loved food trailer park.  That boutique hotel located at 1603 South Congress will have 83 rooms total, and an event space to host up to 300 guests.

First Look: Another large mixed-use project on tap for South Lamar

First Look: Another large mixed-use project on tap for South Lamar


The tidal wave of construction on South Lamar Boulevard – near the Broken Spoke – isn’t over yet.

Plans have just been filed for a large mixed-use project, consisting of three buildings, totaling half a million square feet of office, retail and 304 apartment units.  The project is another development by Ardent Residential, the same group that developed the similarly named Gibson Flats and Burnet Flats (not to mention the Four Seasons Residences downtown).

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The mixed-use project — called Lamar Flats — will go in across the street from Red’s Porch. The site currently holds a Golden Corral, which will be demolished, and is next to the planned In-N-Out Burger.

Lamar Flats plans call for:

  • a 4-story 125,000 square foot mixed use building
  • a 5-story 158,000 square foot mixed use building
  • about 137,000 square feet underground parking
  • a 4-story residential building


The area in question has been the subject of years of press coverage while the world-famous Broken Spoke became flanked in by two residential rental projects. Over the past year, South Lamar has undergone a complete transformation. Six prior mixed-use projects brought nearly 2,000 new homes for people eager to live in the area, plus over 100,000 square feet for shops, restaurants, and small offices.

The development along South Lamar brings with it sweet, not just sour. As pointed out by the Austin Contrarian — South Lamar has become a destination in its own right — like downtown, the Triangle, or South Congress.

From a residential real estate standpoint, the development is boon for land owners. A transformed South Lamar is also an increased draw to those purchasing condos near the core.  While it may not bring a lot of vertical development like we see elsewhere, projects like this $4.2 million townhome project on 2002 Glen Allen, also increase urban density in the area and start to become more attractive to builders.

However, the new development will also raise the ire of the existing neighborhood and through commuters who gripe about traffic. This is likely to increase the call to action they are placing on District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen. Kitchen made South Lamar improvements one of her campaign platforms.

The city is responding accordingly and launched a study last year to look at improving the South Lamar area between Lady Bird Lake and Ben White.  Another major project, like the Lamar Flats, lends inertia to the effort to bring a lot of same bike and pedestrian friendly designs that are now downtown into the South Lamar area.


Structures with Stories – 119 E 6th and the Tides of Changing Commerce – Downtown Austin Real Estate

Structures with Stories – 119 E 6th and the Tides of Changing Commerce – Downtown Austin Real Estate

119 E 6th St-large-012-Street Signs and Exteriors-1476x1000-72dpi

The concept that buildings tell stories is nothing new.  There are several books written on the idea (we have some in our brokerage office), and this is a founding principle on which many historical and preservation societies and the like are based (it’s certainly one of the more satisfying aspects of being involved in the real estate and development business). And, in this way, the building at 119 E Sixth street is the same as other towers in downtown Austin – but that’s paradoxically also what makes it different than every other tower in downtown Austin.  While every tower in downtown Austin has a story, this particular site and structure’s story is uniquely its own.

What initially piqued my interest about 119 E Sixth is its recent conversion from a lower-end, off-the-grid apartment community with a slightly scary convenient store at the ground floor to a higher-end short term rental complex atop a shiny new 30,000 square foot Gold’s Gym. The lot is owned by Stream Realty, who, in partnership with vacation rental company, Top Trip Rentals, has done a nice exterior remodel of the building, working with local companies like Sixthriver Architects. The interiors are also being updated, and some units are currently available for short term rental through Top Trip – many at lower prices than nearby hotels (they’ve provided us with many of the photos below).

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Funnily enough, Top Trip Rentals also manages an STR right out of the historically rich (and outright awesome) – Graeber house, which is only a couple blocks away from 119 E Sixth.  Our firm listed this remarkable home a couple years back for the Graeber family. There’s a pool in this house, y’all – and it’s RIGHT on E Sixth and you wouldn’t even KNOW IT!  Don’t believe me? Take a look at our photos from a couple years back (the home is also listed on the Top Trip site – it’s furnished differently now).

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My original intent in researching the site was to provide a vanilla, informational piece on the building’s current use as an alternate option to a hotel, and to contextualize the building’s use within an industry vertical that’s climbing towards a fever pitch in downtown Austin. I also thought there may be something interesting to be learned about the short-term rental market in Austin in a general sense with some tie back into many condo HOAs’ refusal to entertain such use within their buildings, and how other buildings have embraced STR use to their advantage.

But, last week, after visiting the building and speaking with the knowledgeable vacation rental proprietor of the 24 rehabbed units at 119 E Sixth, Chereen Fisher, I couldn’t help but become fascinated by the site’s history, partially outlined on the plaque outside of the building.


119 E 6th is the site where commerce started in Austin.  This location has seen a plethora of timely uses, starting as a dry goods store, then transforming into a grocery store, a fire department, a bank, a trailblazing commercial coffee roasting facility, and a wholesale operation.  Chereen also told me that, in 1979, the original structure was demolished and an apartment complex with a parking garage was built as part of a large-scale effort to save the neighboring Driskill hotel (apparently, more parking was needed for the hotel to profitably continue operation). And there it sat until the tides of commerce shifted yet again as a new variation of the hospitality industry was born in Austin.

Gray, S. A. Mercantile and General City Directory of Austin, Texas---1872-1873., Book, 1872; ( : accessed July 17, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Gray, S. A. Mercantile and General City Directory of Austin, Texas—1872-1873., Book, 1872; ( : accessed July 17, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Screenshot 2015-07-17 13.23.16

The Capitol of our great state, Austin, Texas, Book, 1915; ( : accessed July 17, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

In short, this site – a site that many of us probably nonchalantly walk by on our way to some Congress or W Sixth destination – and its uses were / are at the very epicenter of Austin’s constantly developing commercial district.  119 E Sixth provides a tidy historical illustration of the evolution of commerce in Austin, and tells a story of Austin’s ever changing business dynamics from day one of Austin’s commercial existence.




Mind = blown.



A note: I’m OBVIOUSLY just chipping tiny bits from tip of the iceberg of the history of this building and this site. And I know that the story I’m “reading” from this building is just one of many stories that this building tells.  I’d love to hear from readers about anything they know about this site and any interesting, historic stories you may know and want to share.