Archives for February 2010

Sabine On Fifth Auction Results

UPDATE: As of 3/24/10 there are five units remaining at the Sabine.  Send me a message for availability.

In a packed house, over 200 registered bidders showed up for the auction of 31 units at the Sabine on Fifth condos.  31 29 buyers walked away very happy, as this was believed to be the last great buying opportunity for attainably priced downtown Austin new construction.  Where 27 units were originally intended to be auctioned, earlier in the week CWS (developer) decided to include three more, then in the final minutes of the auction they included another 1bd.

The building has 80 units total.  Once the 31 auction units close, there will be 13 new construction units remaining.  These will be sold through traditional channels.  36 units closed before the now settled lawsuit was filed in February of 2009.  During 2009, the 44 remaining units were taken off of the market due to litigation.  This auction marked the “re-debut” of the Sabine.

# of units offered = 31 (29 bids accepted as of 4pm Sunday)
Avg winning bid (inc. 4% prem.) = $228psf
Avg original asking price = $326psf
Avg discount from asking price = 30%

You’ll recall that the Brazos Place auction fetched an average of $281psf, and that was an avg 29% discount from original asking price.


Facebook Opening Austin Office

The ABJ’s Jacob Dirr scoops the high profile social media company’s move into Austin.

Sources close to the deal said Facebook is still in the site selection process and is favoring downtown Austin.

We’ve been leaning on our DAB Facebook fan page for quick posts.  Check it out and become a fan!

The Shore Condos Battle Developer AND Villas On Town Lake

The Shore Condos Battle Developer AND Villas On Town Lake

The rumble on Rainey Street… it’s a clash of the condos!

Like most condominiums, The Shore Condos are controlled by its home owners association (HOA).  Like several condominiums in downtown Austin, The Shore Condos are actually a sub-association of a more senior association.  In this case, The Shore Condos are the “residential unit” and one half of a master association called the Waterfront Master Condominium Association, Inc.   The other half is a “hotel unit” – ostensibly setup as the place holder for the Hotel Van Zandt (and may still be).

In 2005 High Street Rainey, LP purchased Lot 1, Red River Addition, from Sack Family Holding, Ltd (the “Waterfront Property”).  In 2006 High Street Rainey, LP created the Waterfront Master Condominium Association, Inc.  Prior to that, when the Villas On Town Lake’s land was originally deeded, the seller withheld a 50 x 50 right-of-way easement where Red River meets Davis St in order to provide access to the south of Davis Street in perpetuity.

In 2007 High Street Rainey LP + JMIR-Austin Hotel, LP + The Waterfront Master Condominium Association, Inc. sued the Villas On Town Lake Owners Association, Inc for encroaching on that easement.  Note that at this point in the story, the “residential unit”, aka the Shore Condominium HOA is not named in the lawsuit.  In fact, the “residential unit” wouldn’t learn about this lawsuit until recently.

As best as we can figure out, the Villas decided this easement could be used to locate a dumpster.  The developer of The Shore, who by right also has use of the 50 x 50 easement, removed the dumpster and the parties sued each other.  In 2008 the parties reach a written settlement agreement, but for reasons unknown this agreement wasn’t actually executed.  Earlier this month, the Villas filed a motion to enforce that settlement agreement.

Not so fast.

The Shore Condominium HOA (“residential unit”) legally intervened by filing an objection to the Villas motion to enforce the settlement agreement, on the grounds that any settlement agreement would bind The Shore Condominium HOA to something they weren’t a party to.  So, the Shore HOA wants to put the kibosh on a settlement agreement that could adversely affect their interests.

B-b-b-but wait it gets worse!

The Shore Condos seem to be unclear about how, or if, they are would be bound by the settlement agreement.  The Shore Condominium HOA asserts in a legal filing that:

The Shore Association is not clear on how such terms [re: the settlement agreement] would impact its’ members regarding the easement contemplated.

To the best of our knowledge this is a Mexican standoff.  Since the original parties sued each other, it’s unlikely they will both simultaneously drop all of their claims.  The judge is unlikely to enforce a settlement agreement that would bind a party that was not originally part of that agreement.

Friggin’ dumpsters.

Austin Views: The State Capitol Like You've Never Seen It Before

Austin Views: The State Capitol Like You've Never Seen It Before

This week’s Austin Views features HDR photographs of the state capitol. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, HDR means “High Dynamic Range” and is the result combining several exposures of the same scene to create a final photograph with a greater range of luminance levels. The results are impressionistic photographs with brilliant colors and spectacular details.

For those of you interested in experimenting with this technique, I highly recommend using a tripod and the software program Photomatix Pro, which makes the process of blending exposures far less cumbersome.

As always, please feel free to post your own HDR shots, discuss this topic, or post any other shots of the capitol.


Photographs by Benjamin Gustafsson

The History of Barton Springs

Photograph by Benjamin Gustafsson

If you’ve read Monday’s post, then you know about Sam Houston’s feud with Mirabeau B. Lamar over the location of Texas capital. One can easily understand why Houston wanted the capital to be located in the city that bore his name, but why did Lamar insist that it be moved to the little-known frontier town of Waterloo that would one day become Austin?

Apparently, Lamar had fallen in love with an area near Waterloo, owned by a friend of his named ‘Uncle’ Billy Barton, where he would hunt for buffalo and rejuvenate himself in the refreshingly icy pools of water created by springs from an underground aquifer. When Lamar was missing, his staffers would travel to this area and follow herds of buffalo to find him.

When Austin became the capital of the young republic, Lamar moved into a residence only two miles away from the site that would later become known as Barton Springs.

Arguably the crown jewel of city, one can easily understand that the Barton Springs—the source of the largest metropolitan swimming pool in the country at 900 feet—had something to do with Austin’s emergence as an urban center.

The Edwards aquifer, which provides the icy water of the springs—and much of Austin’s drinking water—was created millions of years ago during the tectonic shift that created the Balcones Fault.

During its prehistory, the Native American tribes in the region knew the springs as a sacred place where they could heal their wounds. Yet, the springs did not become a public swimming facility for the residents of Austin until the 20th century.

In 1901 A.J. Zilker, the first Coca-Cola Bottler in Austin, bought the land and developed one of the springs into an amphitheatre style swimming pool (modeled after a roman bath) for the local Elk Lodge. Eliza Springs, as the amazing, archaic looking pool is now known, is again closed to the public due to alleged dangers in its construction and because it has become a preserve for the endangered Barton Springs Salamander.

File:Eliza spring.jpg

In 1917 Zilker began donating his land along the south bank of the Colorado River to the Public Free Schools of Austin on the condition that the city of Austin would buy the land. That same year the area became a public park, and Austinites began flocking to the springs.

Between 1929 and 1932 the pool was extended to its current size and shape with the addition of concrete dams on the lower and upper ends and given sidewalks along its banks. The pool, including its smaller offshoots, was now approximately a thousand feet long.

Located near the center of Austin in Zilker Park, Barton Springs is the undeniable heart of the city. In the summer, when temperatures consistently rise over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the whole city gathers at the shores of the great, old pool, where the water remains a chilly and perpetual 68 degrees.