Archives for March 2013

Royal Blue Grocery Announces Next Location @ The Whitley

Royal Blue Grocery Announces Next Location @ The Whitley

Big news for those living and working on the east side of Congress Ave.  Royal Blue proprietor, George Scariano, confirms with DAB that the lease is officially signed with The Whitley!

This will be the locally loved grocer’s fourth location.  The 2300 ft store will anchor the Railyard District, and we can expect an opening in July.

The store will be a full blown coffee shop, offering beer & wine, with an on-site kitchen serving baja-style seafood tacos, tacos al pastor, and flattop burgers.

We can’t wait!

Republic Square Postured For Awesomeness

Republic Square Postured For Awesomeness

The ABJ is predicting the next niche of downtown to blossom will be anchored by Republic Square Park – which was a surface parking lot through the mid-70s.

The Plaza Lofts kicked off the modern idea of downtown condo life overlooking the park.  Next came the AMLI on 2nd.  The Post Office site is now controlled by a joint venture between Endeavor and Andrews -Urban.  The Federal Courthouse is now complete, and it is pretty good looking as courthouses go.  Travis County deployed tons of cash to buy the block immediately south of Republic Square.

There’s a new master planning effort underway for the park.  Our take is that the park needs more concessionaires, to give people a reason to go there in the daytime.

Oh, Republic Square is also going to be an anchor for the upcoming MetroRapid.

No doubt, Republic Square Park’s rejuvenation is largely due to excellent stewardship.  Kudos to the Austin Parks Foundation and Downtown Austin Alliance.

The area of downtown centered around Republic Square has begun a slow transformation from a bland, parking lot-studded section into a center of urban activity. – Austin Business Journal


Signals That Lustre Pearl Is Moving

Signals That Lustre Pearl Is Moving

In response to an application to relocate the structure that is Lustre Pearl, the City of Austin Historic Landmark Commission staff recommendation is to permit the move once a new site is located and approved by staff.

Relocating the structure would free up the CBD zoned dirt for a mixed-use tower on the northern end of Rainey Street.

Opening Lustre Pearl in 2008, Bridget Dunlap was the first to see the opportunity in repurposing Rainey Street’s dilapidated CBD-zoned bungalows into bars.

From the HLC brief…

The house was built c. 1907. The City Directory indicates E.A. Murchison residing at 97 Rainey Street in the first listing for the address in the 1906-07 City Directory; however Mr. Murchison’s listing in the name directory indicates him residing at 1303 E. 12th Street.

The next listing in 1909 indicates physician and surgeon Dr. Samuel H. Haigler residing at the address. He resided there until 1913, after which Mrs. Sara A. Spence, widow of Robert Spense, was the resident and owner until at least 1924. J.C. Sample, a carpenter and his wife Minnie were the next residents until approximately 1933. For the remaining years the house was owned and rented by a series of families, none of which resided at the address for more than a few years at a time. All residents, save Dr. Haigler, were blue collar or “non-professional” workers with occupations such as waiter, dishwasher and janitor. Starting in the late 1940’s surnames of the residents indicate a demographic change from Anglo to Hispanic residents as is typical for addresses in the district.  – HLC background info (pdf)


What is and isn’t happening at Seaholm

What is and isn’t happening at Seaholm

It has been almost one year exactly since the site plan to begin redevelopment at Seaholm was filed, and still there is no major activity on the site. The lack of apparent progress was reinforced when news broke recently that the city of Rollingwood snagged a Trader Joes before Seaholm.

When Trader Joe’s announced it was moving into Seaholm in 2012, reporters were told that construction could begin that summer and Trader Joe’s would be open this year.

While the Downtown Waste Water Tunnel Project, which has been a big part of Seaholm’s construction delay, is nearing an end of work, there is still a lot that has to get completed with Seaholm plans before we’ll see major construction at the redevelopment.

Seaholm Map

A number of issues, including tree protection issues, are obstructing site plan approval for Seaholm, and in November 2012, the deadline to resolve the conflicts was pushed back to May this year. It’s worth noting, so as not to be confused, Heritage Trees had in the past been an issue related to the Green Water Treatment plant redevelopment, but that trees are impacting Seaholm is something new.

The new Central Library, which is also part of the redevelopment, is also slow off the mark. It seems engineers filed their site plan without doing a number of basic things first, such as obtaining a capital view corridor determination (which has been filed and is pending). Tree protection issues are also impeding progress at this site. The deadline to clear the site plan is in April, with construction set to begin by fall 2013, with completion in 2016.

At the very least, steady progress seems to be making way on the extension of Second Avenue, over Shoal Creek to West Ave., which will be very important to the site.

bridge 1

This week, City Council will likely approve a request to prepare a staging area for a construction of the library and a project enhancing the Shoal Creek trail, which also adds future access in Seaholm via the new car/bike bridge.

Construction is slated to begin this summer on improvements include completing the gap in the existing Shoal Creek Trail (from 5th to 3rd Streets), constructing the bridge on 2nd, and improving the Shoal Creek bank stabilization and mitigating erosion, as well as other enhancements to the trail.

After spending Saturday morning cleaning up Shoal Creek, as part of Its My Park Day, it’s evident that Shoal Creek could use major improvements. That the new bridge and bank/trail restoration is ramping up is an exciting development in the otherwise lackluster apparent progress related to Seaholm. Have a look below at how it looks today.

Bridge today