Archives for June 2010

Downtown Austin Miscellany

Below are a few photos from the past week.

The former location of Thai Tara has been razed…

W 6th @ Rio Grande - Former site of Thai Tara

In the Rainey Street district, next door to El Naranjo…

El Naranjo patio

We’re seeing progress on Icenhaur’s

Icenhauer construction

Icenhauer's construction

The lone house on Bierce Street…

This is the only house on Bierce Street

This billboard on W 5th Street is completely blocked from view by the bank building. It’s always been a curiosity to me.

This billboard is having an existential crisis

New Office Tower On Congress Ave?

909 Congress Ave - massing view showing interplay with view corridors

Jacob Dirr, with the ABJ, is reporting on a new office tower being planned for Congress Ave.

A 16-story, 88,000-square-foot office tower is being planned for the 900 block of Congress Avenue, a site currently occupied by three vacant buildings, according to city documents.

Located directly across from Little City, the derelict structures have been sporting plywood facades for years, and have been a general blight on downtown Austin.  My understanding of these properties was that there was tension amongst the ownership that inhibited combining all three into a develop-able tower, until recently.  According to the article, the developer, Dalton Wallace, will restore the facades as part of the building.

907-911 Congress Ave

From the applicant’s presentation to the Design Commission…

909 Congress is a mixed use office and retail project located mid‐block on the east side of the 900 block of Congress Ave. The site measures 69’ x 160’ and is composed of three lots 907, 909 and 911 Congress, zoned CBD‐H and the allowable FAR is 88,000sf. The project will consist of retail at the ground floor along Congress with one level of parking below grade and seven levels of parking above grade plus eight levels of office space. We will be restoring the three historic two‐story building facades and setting the tower back 10’ above the historic buildings. We will also be respecting the Capital View Corridor along Congress with an additional setback and remain under the Capital Dominance Cone height restriction. The parking access will be from the alley behind the site and will be serviced by two automobile elevators and valet staff. The above ground parking will be screened from view. The building will be located between two larger office buildings at 919 Congress and 823 Congress.

front view of proposed tower

Downtown Austin Open Houses

downtown Austin open house listings for Sunday, June 27th

  1. 800 W 5th St, Austin City Lofts #505, 2bd/2ba $530,000 2-4pm [AvenueOne]
  2. 360 Nueces St, 360 Condos #3011, 2bd/2ba $599,900 1-3pm [Urbanspace]
  3. 360 Nueces St, 360 Condos #1311, 2bd/2ba $429,900 1-3pm [Urbanspace]

When you’re done with the open houses, you can enjoy an afternoon on Lady Bird Lake by renting a canoe or kayak from at the Texas Rowing Center. Or, dine al fresco at Annie’s Cafe on Congress Ave for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Make sure to download my transactional report from May (registered members only) and discuss with a Realtor who lives and works in downtown Austin.


The Other Seaholm Project

The re-utilization of downtown Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant will happen.  When?  Not soon.  Why?  No $$$.  No surprise.

However, at Wednesday evening’s Parks Commission meeting, CM Chris Riley shared the opportunity to adapt the Seaholm intake structure (which sits on the lake) into something usable and complimentary to the trail.


An ordinance passed in 1985 required facilities such as this, owned by the city, immediately become park land upon termination or cessation of their existing uses.  Hence… PARD controls these buildings.

Furthermore, the 1987 Town Lake Park Comprehensive Plan states:  “…the building south of W. First Street that houses the cooling water intake for the power plant is ideally situated for conversion to lakeside dining.”  It goes on to suggest: “A water taxi stop will give additional access.”

OK, this is getting interesting, right?

PARD is strapped for cash, and PARD director Sarah Hensley is a progressive force.  There is reason to be optimistic that something can happen here, and we’re not going to have to wait 10 years to see it realized.

According to CM Riley, the use should be contextual, and specifically cater to the myriad people using the trail.  I understood this as concessionaires and open seating, rather than a proper restaurant as might be inferred from the plan.  This makes sense, considering there is little/no room for additional parking here.  Not a bad thing, IMO.

How can you help?  Keep the discussion moving, and share the idea with your friends.  Send a note to city council that you want to see these buildings put to public use.



Wallspace With Permission – Austin’s Untapped Canvas

After last night’s public briefing on the boardwalk design, i rounded the corner at city hall and noticed a painted wall with the website “”. This morning I checked them out, and was delighted to discover what Placing Routes is about.

idea —> proposal —> permission —> realization

simply put, the business owner has a wall/space and the artist has an idea/concept. from there, a mural, a sculpture, a piece of art is born.

CASH mural at Wahoos. This awesome pic is from Austin Texas Daily Photo

Artists paired with buildings.  Have an artistic idea for a wall space?  Artist or building can bring an idea to the table.  Take permanence off the table, and you open up a world of opportunity, especially in downtown Austin.

A few years back, I helped to launch Wallspace Media, an advertising company that did this with projection.  We obtained permission to utilize wallspace, and did our thing.  You see this with graffiti artists, too, who developed the concept of “permission walls”.  Walk down E 5th, and across from Cafe Mundi you’ll see a massive amount of artwork on the back of an aging warehouse.  All done with permission.

As you walk around town, you’ll notice the potential for this.  Stark surfaces everywhere have the potential to bring vibrancy to the community, and energy to those who see it.