Rezoning of Downtown Austin Ecology Action Site Could Signal Redevelopment Plans

Rezoning of Downtown Austin Ecology Action Site Could Signal Redevelopment Plans

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Three contiguous lots in a prime downtown location are asking for a zoning change, which leads us to believe that either a land deal is in the works, or the land owners are posturing to sell.

The lots in question are three lots that are on the western side of I-35 frontage at the 9th St. block.  Currently the lots are occupied by Ecology Action of Texas, a small lot currently being used by the City for parking, and another small lot being used for Waller Creek staging. Waller Creek improvements are being made in the next lot west.

The two land owners have gotten together and are jointly requesting a zoning change from CS (General Commercial Services – used primarily for office and industrial type uses incompatible with residential use) to CBD (the very broad zoning category that permits just about anything, including residential) – for proposed uses “unknown” (per their statements on public record).  We reached out directly to Ecology Action and they didn’t have any information about the rezoning, either.

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The lots are separated from Stubbs by City-controlled land / Waller Creek.

If built into any sort of residential tower, sound mitigation is likely going to be a primary concern, as any future development would be sandwiched in between I-35, a major outdoor music venue, and would be less than a block away from a police station.  It’s very possible that there would be some other contemplated use of these particular lots.  However, the view from the lots looks almost right into 2 very successful apartment complexes – Eleven Austin and Amli Eastside, which leads one to think that many possibilities exist for these lots.

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In any case, Ecology Action is one of those “gotta love’em” not-for-profits, but we also believe that there are higher and better uses for this specific piece of land.

Homewood Suites: Update On Proposed Hotel In Rainey Street District

Homewood Suites: Update On Proposed Hotel In Rainey Street District

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Back in February, we learned of a proposal for a new hotel to be built along East Ave, which is the eastern boundary of downtown Austin’s Rainey Street district.  It is expected to be a Homewood Suites flag, a Hilton branded hotel.

We recently discovered project plans for the hotel, and it looks like the project has grown from 14 to 17 stories.

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The eastern elevation will be the most visible to the highway.  The plans show the first four floors will be garage parking, masked by a metal, architectural, facade that’s matched at the very top of the building as mechanical screening.

Below is a summary of what we know about Homewood Suites proposed hotel:

  • Number of stories = 17
  • Number of rooms = 150
  • Building height = 184 feet

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Interestingly, just a few lots south of this proposed hotel, the Kimber Rainey boutique hotel is slated to begin construction soon, and the Hotel Van Zandt will wrap construction in time for SXSW 2015.

-Jude

Red River Properties Apply For Demo Permit,Signals Development Efforts

Red River Properties Apply For Demo Permit,Signals Development Efforts

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Demo permits have been applied for two properties located in the crux of Rainey Street neighborhood development activity: 91 and 91 1/2 Red River Street.

91 1/2 is used as single-family residence. Until recently, 91 Red River was the venue for G’raj Mahal Cafe.  Last year, G’raj Mahal Cafe moved to 73 Rainey Street.  The timing of that move signaled increasing likelihood of development of the site.

These lots will likely be assembled with the adjacent property to the north, owned by 93 Red River Investors LTD (related to Endeavor Real Estate), and currently being used as office/warehouse.

At this point, there is no indication of what is envisioned for the site.

The two properties are not part of the “Rainey Street Historic District” that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The properties are part of the Waller Creek Tax Increment Financing Distric (TIF), which funds the construction of the nearby Waller Creek Tunnel.

There’s no shortage of development occurring nearby: Waller Park Place to the west, Hotel Van Zandt to the south, the Fairmont Hotel one block north, and Millenium Rainey apartments are under-construction around the corner.

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Waller Park Place – Signs Of Progress

Waller Park Place – Signs Of Progress

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I was walking along Red River this weekend and noticed clear signals that Sutton Company is pushing forward earnestly with the largest private development ever (!) proposed in downtown Austin – Waller Park Place.

Most of the aging structures from Cesar Chavez to Davis Street have been vacated… and can now be razed.

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There had been productive month-to-month leases in place. Probably not a huge amount of money coming from those leases, but money none-the-less.  So this seems like a good indicator that demolition will coming in the next couple of months, and in fact, we’ve confirmed demo permits have been issued.

Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View

Most of these lots had been owned for decades by another local developer, Perry Lorenz, who began acquiring them back in the ’80s.  At the time, the only “density” in the Rainey Street neighborhood was Villas on Town Lake and Towers of Town Lake.

When Sutton closed the site earlier this year, by fate of timing, they also assumed the role of being one of the first developers that will participate in bringing the Waller Creek District Master Plan to life (the other being the Fairmont Hotel).  Not a small task, but this isn’t a small development either.  My conversations with Sutton about Waller Creek bode well, as the importance of getting it right is understood by all.

Bonus: raise your hand if you remember when this site was slated to be 21c Residences (ahh, memories).  Double bonus: remember when this site was intended for Vignette?

-Jude

RBJ Center: 18 Acres of East Austin To Be Redeveloped

RBJ Center: 18 Acres of East Austin To Be Redeveloped

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Drive northbound on I-35 into downtown, look to the right while crossing Ladybird Lake, and you cannot miss the lone tower on the east side of Austin.

This is the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center (aka. Austin Geriatric Center). This is also one of the most desirable parcels of land in Austin.

RBJ Center was built in 1972 to provide affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities. Currently, the 112 efficiency units (~400sf) and 138 one bedrooms (~600sf) at the RBJ Center will rent for $430 to $514, and $460 to $545, respectively. There is a 6 month wait list for efficiencies, and a year long wait list for one-bedrooms.

A team of three local developers has been selected by the private non-profit Austin Geriatric Center to redevelop 18 acres of the property. Two notable members of the team are Momark Development, developers of Edgewick, the Austonian, and also Chestnut Commons; and Southwest Strategies Group, who is responsible for Seaholm.

The team’s proposal includes:

• 250 new units of affordable senior housing
• 250 units of renovated senior housing
• Approximately 340 units of mixed-income apartments and condos
• 25,000 square feet of commercial space

RBJ

The involvement of Momark Development bodes well for the redevelopment as Terry Mitchell is one of the more progressive developers in town with a track record of successful projects.

This property has always been mysterious from afar (have you seen the abandoned cul-de-sac along Haskell?) Walk or drive past the property border along Comal and the grassy field looks like an overgrown no-mans land juxtaposed with a tower that is a little worse for wear. It has always raised an eyebrow.

The evolution of this site is long overdue, so it’s exciting to see some action.

Millennium Rainey Releases New Renderings

Millennium Rainey Releases New Renderings

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The rendering below shows how the upcoming downtown Austin apartment building, Millennium Rainey, will greet the intersection of Driskill & Rainey Street.

Project Summary:
– 8 Stories
– 326 apartments for rent
– 543,715 ft
– 2.21 acres
– Anticipated LEED H Silver Certification
– Developer: Dinerstein

From the architect Ziegler Cooper:

Amenities include an infinity edge pool on the 7th floor, a clubroom, demonstration kitchen, and fitness room overlooking the pool deck. A conference room off on the ground floor will also be available for resident’s use. A ground floor retail component is included, providing close shopping and eatery options for residents. With close access to Colorado River, various parks and bike trails, downtown Austin and public transportation this up and coming neighborhood will appeal to young professionals and students seeking an urban living with access to a 24/7 lifestyle in downtown Austin.

Millennium Rainey is expected to deliver in Q4 of 2015.  You can follow Millennium Rainey’s progress on Twitter, though they spell it with one “n”… go figure(?)

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Renderings by Ziegler Cooper

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Renderings by Ziegler Cooper

Aspen Heights Announces 22-Story Apartment Highrise in Downtown Austin

Aspen Heights Announces 22-Story Apartment Highrise in Downtown Austin

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Back in December, Austin Towers broke the news of a proposed apartment tower at 8th and Nueces Streets, to be called Aspen Heights.

This week the Austin Business Journal confirmed that the project is expected to break ground this summer.  Here’s what we know…

Project name = Aspen Heights
Number of stories = 22
Number of apartment = 196
Height = 200 feet (tiered from 60′ to 120′ to 200′)
Building Type = Apartments for rent
Location = 8th Street @ Nueces Street
Architect = Rhode Partners
Developer = Aspen Heights
Project Start Date = Summer 2014
Project Completion = 2015

The 22-story project is the company’s first foray into conventional multifamily housing, though CEO and Founder Greg Henry has a history of working on various real estate developments dating back to his career in Arkansas. [Source: ABJ]

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The Fairmont Austin: Fall 2017

The Fairmont Austin: Fall 2017

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New signage was installed today at Red River and Cesar Chavez for the Fairmont Austin.

This is the proof-of-life many of us have been waiting for after delayed commencement of construction, which had been announced over a year ago.

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