To pour, or not to pour… concrete… at 3am.

To pour, or not to pour… concrete… at 3am.

map-concrete-pouring-amendment

At this moment it is difficult to name a residential tower in downtown Austin that is not within earshot of construction.  This is one of those topics that reflects the challenges of managing economic growth.

The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) just posted about item #18 on City Council’s draft agenda for October 23rd.

The agenda item in question is in regards expanding the areas allowed for concrete pouring from just the CBD to include the Density Bonus Area (see image below), DMU areas (which would include Seaholm), and the (P) Zoning Districts.

Here’s a map (click on it to enlarge):

map-concrete-pouring-amendment

The amendment also adds what some would call “weak” language regarding noticing requirements.

The proposed amendment has revealed a bit of a fury from downtown residents – many of whom want the night-time pouring stopped altogether (we’ve been told by several sources that no other major city in Texas allows for concrete pours after 8pm).

Then there are residents who want construction to be completed as soon as possible, thus are encouraging the night-time pours.  Some folks on this side of the issue note that ROI is impacted when construction timelines are longer, which could impact things like affordability and the ability to even build some dense developments.  They also cite that day-time traffic would be even further gridlocked if some concrete pours aren’t allowed in the late evenings.

Notably, residents of the Spring Condos and 360 Condos are within proximity of Seaholm’s construction, and will be immediately affected if this amendment passes, and residents of Plaza Lofts (with the newly started construction of Hotel ZaZa) has previously expressed concerns about night-time pours in general.

We see both sides of the issue, (personally, I see the benefits of getting construction over with) and believe that downtown should continue to push for vertical growth.  Of course, I’ve been woken up by early morning concrete pours.  It’s just something we accept as part of growth, but we are watching closely to see how the chips fall at the October 23.

-Amber





The Rainey Street House

The Rainey Street House

93-rainey-austin

It looks like Rainey Street District will be getting a history center!  The big question is: where will it go?

On June 12, 2014, Councilman Mike Martinez made a motion, which was amended by Councilman Chris Riley and passed a council vote to essentially read as follows:

Directs the City Manager to accept the donation of the structure formerly located at 93 Rainey St. from Austin Rainey St. D/E/P, LLC, a Delaware, LLC., for use as the Rainey Street History Center.

Here’s the house at 93 Rainey in 2012 (taken from my MEGA Rainey post from 2012) – standing on one of the sites where Dinerstein is building the Millenium Apartments.

The ~1600sf structure as it stands today:

93-rainey-austin

This structure, which will be refurbished using funds from the Rainey Street District Fund, will be placed on a TBD location within the next 180 days.

Currently, these three locations are being considered:

64 Rainey, 700 Cummings, and East Avenue – all pictured below:

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There are pros and cons to each of these sites, and the Rainey Neighbors Association will be discussing all the issues, and likely selecting the location THEY endorse (several other stakeholders may need to agree, including the MACC and the Waller Creek Conservancy) on 10/21 at 6:30pm at the Towers of Town Lake Library. If you are an RNA member – you’re welcome to come to the meeting! Otherwise, submit your thoughts on these sites in the comments below!

For more information, download the attached presentation by Austin Parks and Rec: Rainey-Street-House





Fifth & West Residences: The Next Austin Condo Tower

Fifth & West Residences: The Next Austin Condo Tower

view from east

The Statesman confirmed today what many of us have been expecting, the former offices of the Texas Press Association located at the corner of Fifth Street @ West Avenue, will be razed and construction to commence on a 39 story condominium.

Known officially as Fifth & West Residences, it is the first condo project in downtown Austin to reveal official plans to begin accepting reservations since Seaholm.  Seaholm Condos is notable as it was announced almost exactly one year ago, and was fully reserved within just a few days of that announcement.

We first learned about Fifth & West earlier this year when the project came before the Downtown Commission, and we observed just how compact a footprint the building will have.  So, maximizing FAR was crucial to developing the site.  One of the more notable pieces the developer offered for density bonuses was subsidized Car2Go, B-Cycle, and Shoal Creek Conservancy memberships for each residence.  It is to be determined if those commitments carried through the entitlement process.

[Interior renderings by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture]

Tall and slender (think Spring Condos) because of the property’s small foot print, combined with the the impact of the Capitol View Corridor, the building’s architecture will be a unique triangular tower, with the longest plane facing southeast.  The surrounding businesses, notably Austin Urban Vet, Kung-Fu Saloon, Jerry Kunz design, and Molotov, will remain untouched by the vertical development.

Below is a summary of what we know about Fifth & West Residences:

  • Project name = Fifth + West Residences
  • Address = 501 West Avenue, Austin, TX 78701
  • Project type = condominium
  • Number of residences = ~154
  • Target pricing = ~$740 per foot, on average
  • Building height = 448ft
  • Unit sizes = average of 1,624 sf  (1, 2, 3 bedroom plans)
  • Developer = Riverside Resources
  • FAR = ~20:1
  • Architect = GDA Architects (Interior Michael Hsu)
  • Anticipated delivery = Autumn of 2017

It’s interesting to see how a large Capitol View Corridor impacts vertical development, forcing architects and developers to finesse the building envelope.

Capitol View Corridor

A large Capitol View Corridor cuts through downtown Austin, Fifth & West to the left

Pre-sales process will be announced soon.  Until then, if you’re interested in making a reservation, contact us for more details!

-Jude

Comparison of GDA Architect's rendering to what the corner of 5th & West looks like today

Comparison of GDA Architect’s rendering to what the corner of 5th & West looks like today





New Hyatt House Hotel Proposed in Downtown Austin

New Hyatt House Hotel Proposed in Downtown Austin

hyatt-house-pittsburgh

Hyatt House line of extended stay hotels (not to be confused with the  relatively new Hyatt Place across the street from The Whitley) has announced plans to build at 9th and Neches.

Being catty-corner from the Mohawk, steps aways from the music district on Red River, it makes sense that they would want to put something like a hotel in this particular lot, rather than something like condos.  However, it just seems crazy to see even MORE hotels coming up when you have so many other hotel projects happening. I mean, the same company is building 2 hotels (300 rooms) literally right across 9th street at 805 Neches.

Admittedly, it’s going to be an improvement of what’s currently there:

901 Neches

screenshot from Google Maps, Feb 2014

Hyatt House has an existing Austin location in the Arboretum.  Here’s what we know about what’s proposed for the downtown Hyatt House:

  • 901 Neches Street
  • .41 Acres of land
  • ~17k sf of building
  • 189 Rooms
  • 139 parking spaces
  • 10 stories

Hyatt-House-Downtown-Austin

I’m a bit surprised by the amount of parking they are contemplating: 139 spaces, for 189 rooms. Since it’s an extended stay style of hotel, I suppose they see a demand for parking, and are investing accordingly.  It’s just a bit strange because White Lodging, the owner of Hyatt, recently proposed Aloft on Congress Avenue – a larger hotel just four blocks away, without any parking!

The site plan for Hyatt House has been filed with the city, and a decision regarding the application will be made before 10/20/2014.

Looks like the current owner, Journeyman Austin Holdings, bought the land in April of this year.





Downtown Austin Voting Guide

Downtown Austin Voting Guide

us-flag

We know you’ve heard this a bajillion-million times, but this year’s election on November 4, 2014,  is VERY important. Particularly for Downtown Austin, as the new 10-1 district system has the potential to really adversely affect policies that support a vibrant and growing downtown.

First things first – when, where, and how to vote:

When

The actual election is November 4, 2014, but EARLY VOTING starts Monday, October 20, 2014, (prompting some discussion between Jude and I as to what the real difference is between early voting and just regular voting).  Early voting runs through Halloween this year.

Where

Early Voting Locations: Oddly, there are no stations officially defined as “Early Voting” stations in downtown proper (weird, huh?) – but there are some MOBILE Voting locations downtown for Early Voting (sheesh – confusing, I know) – here are a few:

  • Mon 10/20/14 THROUGH Fri 10/31/14, 8am-7pm: Mobile Voting Station at ACC Rio Grande (1212 Rio Grande) – no voting station on Sun 10/26, and hours are 9am-6pm on Sat 10/25
  • Tues 10/21/14, 1pm-3pm: Mobile Voting station at Lakeside Senior Center (85 Trinity)
  • Mon 10/27/14 THROUGH Fri 10/31/14, 7am-7pm: Mobile Voting station at Austin City Hall (301 W 2nd)
  • Tues 10/28/14, 8am-5pm: Mobile Voting station at Travis County Commissioner’s Court (700 Lavaca)
  • Wed, 10/29/14 & Thurs 10/30/14, 8am-5pm: Mobile Voting station at HM Sweatt Travis County Courthouse (1000 Guadalupe)
  • Fri, 10/31/14, 8am-5pm: Mobile Voting station at the Sam Houston Building (201 E 14th St)

early-voting-austin-election

On November 4th:

  • Austin City Hall (301 W 2nd) – 7am-7pm
  • ACC Rio Grande (1212 Rio Grande) – 7am-7pm

Here’s a LIST of all the mobile voting locations, sorted by date. For a comprehensive map of ALL Early Voting, Mobile Voting, and Election Day Voting locations – click here.

How

Now, as to the ballot itself – we won’t go into every race, in the interest of everyone’s sanity, but, we will give an overview to  a couple of the downtown-related / pertinent issues:

There’s the General Gubernatorial ballot which has things like US Representatives, State Representatives, Judges, and County offices….

Then, there’s the CITY Ballot which will have some very important races for Downtown on it:

  • For District 9 (the district which includes downtown Austin), we personally support Chris Riley.  The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association also supports this candidate.
  • For Proposition 1 (the “rail bond”), while there is quite a bit of debate about this bond, we think it’s important to note that the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association has given $4,000 in funds to the Let’s Go Austin political action committee, who has campaigned to support the bond. The Downtown Austin Alliance and the Austin American Statesman also support Prop 1.

Also, here’s a handy dandy tool you can use to remind your friends to Go Vote!

-Amber

 





Downtown Austin Streets Are Safer With Uber & Lyft

Downtown Austin Streets Are Safer With Uber & Lyft

uber

We celebrated Amber’s birthday this past weekend with friends and family hanging out with us at the Shore condos, and later crawling Rainey Street.  Everyone had a great time… and plenty to drink.

As we wrapped up the evening I observed 6-7 people use Uber to get themselves home safely.

I was struck by how effortless ride sharing is, and that it effectively keeps a percentage of drunk drivers off the streets of Austin.  Remarkable.

I think back to just last year, when getting a cab was a non-trivial event.  I’ve always been frustrated with taxis in Austin.  They are notoriously difficult to locate, arrive late, or didn’t arrive at all.  The result is that people would make the poor decision to just drive themselves after having a night on the town.

In cities where ride sharing is embraced, I fully expect to see data showing a drop in the number of DWIs.

Austin leadership should pay attention, and we’ll be watching as this topic goes before Austin City Council on the 25th.

-Jude

 





Eyebrow Threading in Downtown Austin

Eyebrow Threading in Downtown Austin

wink-eyebrow-threading-austin-outdoor

Warning:  This post is VERY girly!  If you aren’t into finding convenient beauty solutions in downtown Austin – stop reading now!

But if you are, let’s get REAL girly together, starting now:

pink-girlie

Squeee!!! Fluffy pink unicorns and rainbows and bubbles!

I am a pale, pale lady.  And along with my fair skin comes quite a bit of sensitivity. So, I’m not real big on getting my eyebrows waxed, which seems to be the common way most of my other lady friends keep their eyebrows looking spectacular.

So, for a long time, I just managed my eyebrows myself, which – you know – is not fun.  And then, in the early 2000’s, I was living in Atlanta and I found a GLORIOUS alternative to waxing or tweezing [Read more...]





Hard Hat Tour Photos of Seven Apartments (née 7 Rio), Scheduled To Open This Winter

Hard Hat Tour Photos of Seven Apartments (née 7 Rio), Scheduled To Open This Winter

seven_apartments_austin_highrise_southern_view

Admittedly, I was one of the disappointed spectators when the original concept, proposed as “7Rio”, was reduced to 23 stories.

Still, for the past 18 months, or so, many of us have been eagerly watching the construction site at the corner of 7th @ Rio Grande.  Earlier this year I speculated that Seven could even “go condo,” but it appears that multi-family development continues to have legs.

Now that downtown Austin’s Seven Apartments is approaching completion, and will be delivering residences this winter, we were invited to take a hard-hat tour of the tower.  This would be a great opportunity to get some insight into a new community that’s about to open in our neighborhood.  I could also start to compare how Seven will compete with existing downtown Austin apartments for rent.

I love taking hard-hat tours.  There’s no better opportunity to see the guts of a building.  For me [and definitely NOT Amber!] riding up the bone-jarring ear-splitting construction elevator adds to the excitement.  Peeking through the elevator’s diamond perforated sheet metal, accepting your fate as it creeps higher, you get a unique sense for how each additional floor impacts your perspective of what’s around you.

Here’s what we know about Seven:
Average Residence Size = 924 sf
Average Price per SqFt = $3.05 per month
Number of floors = 23
Number of residences = 220 (172 1bds, 48 2bds)

Seven-Apartments-Austin-Rio-Grande-7rio- - 12

More pictures from the tour after the jump!

[Read more...]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 10/21/14 12:18 AM PDT. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided “AS IS” and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

Information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2014.