Stream Realty Partners has a contract to acquire the downtown block bounded by Congress, Fifth, Sixth and Brazos streets, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Here are the details on what’s planned:
- The deal consists of five parcels totaling 2.3 acres at the southeast corner of Congress and Sixth, plus a half-block directly east on Fifth Street between Brazos and San Jacinto Boulevard.
- Stream Realty is acquiring the portfolio in a partnership with Wanxiang America Real Estate Group and Diversified Real Estate Capital. Heitman LLC is providing financing.
- The site includes the 26-story Bank of America tower. Stream will continue to operate the 256,911-square-foot tower, which is 90 percent leased, as an office building and leave as is.
- Vacant 501 Congress building will be remodeled by 2014 into a contemporary five-story building with 112,000 square feet of first-class office space and a rooftop deck.
- Existing valet parking garage will be torn down and replaced by 2014 with an eight-story parking garage with 300 spaces and street-level retail space
- The site also includes the nine-story Littlefield parking garage with 535 spaces, plus 24 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space. By the end of this year, Stream plans to renovate the apartments as well as the retail space,
which has been vacant.
- The half block site on East Fifth Street between Brazos and San Jacinto, which is home to a Bank of America drive through, will be sold for an unknown development.
Much of this site is entitled with 25:1 FAR, so it’s a disappointment to see an absence of big plans.
Still, it will be better than the vacant buildings currently occupying the 5th Street block between Congress and Brazos. It’s hard to notice these days, given the amount of foot traffic that passes by this block creating an illusion of activity, but this is a major dead zone within the core.
The glass is half-full, though, and of the changes coming to this block, we’re most excited about street level retail being added where that valet garage is now. So much of the urban experience takes place at eye level within the street-scape.
The street belongs to everyone, whether you are a visiting hipster from Tulsa, Oklahoma in town for ACL, a Bastrop native walking to a lunch appointment, a UT student looking for love on Sixth St. or a family from Bee Caves enjoying downtown on the weekend. Having active storefronts makes downtown feel welcoming and alive, and having them lit at night adds an air of comfort and safety that an inhuman, dark parking garage does not.
This is an exciting time to be watching and writing about downtown Austin. The rate of change and investment is unprecedented and is an incredible maturation of the policy strong Austin mayors like (state Sen.) Kirk Watson and Will Wynn put in place.