Big News for Rainey Street District

Big News for Rainey Street District

By now you might have read the breaking news that the Sutton Co. is proposing to build a three-tower complex (including a 65 story tower!) across the street from Iron Works BBQ, with a tower that would be taller than the Austonian.

What you may not realize yet is that Rainey Center, the dual tower project that was supposed to encompass up to 50 stories each, and include up to 1,000 apartments and condos, next door to the Lustre Pearl in Rainey Street, is dead as envisioned… BUT will be replaced by a new concept.


Wally Scott and Mac Pike – aka the Sutton Co. –  have sold the 2-acre site to subsidiary of the Houston-based Dinerstein Companies. This information was buried in the last paragraph in a blockbuster story the Statesman published about a larger than life deal around the block.

According to information posted over at the SkyscraperPage forum, alleged to be taken from city records, Dinerstein is scrapping the dual tower concept for an eight-story mixed use building with an internal parking garage.

That’s a major let down, IMO.  Austin has no shortage of squat beige buildings. Hopefully the new proposal will retain some ‘wow’ factor.

Maybe it just didn’t make sense from a traffic management standpoint to have that much of a draw right off the Cesar Chavez and I-35 access road, and in any case enables Sutton Co. to get capital for an even more inspiring, legacy project.

Still, once people start absorbing this information, it could instill a sense of skepticism about the Sutton Co.’s latest proposal. It wasn’t long ago – after all –  that the Statesman broke news about the Rainey Center project (now Dinerstein is reducing the scope), just like it is doing now with the Waller Center project. Even the Statesman’s Shonda Novak — perennial cheerleader of Austin development — put a caveat in the first line her story about Waller Center of “if it happens”.

The details on the Waller Center project are as follows:

  • $500 million project
  • 3 acres at East Cesar Chavez and Red River streets near Waller Creek.
  • Condos/Hotel tower – 65 floors
  • Apartment tower – 35 to 45 floors
  • Office tower – 17 to 20 floors
  • Proposed groundbreaking – mid to late 2014.

We’d love to see this one happen and reflect the vision below.  It would be a huge boon to downtown, specifically the Waller Creek District.  Cheers to ambitious thinking.

IBCGroup_050213 sutton rainey street

About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.


  1. I’d rather have this development happen first than the original sutton site, although I’m not excited about 8 floors of faceless, uninspired apartments. But having the southwest corner of red river and cesar chavez develop is important. That, plus the world class capital project, plus the fairmont… could really begin tying Rainey street into downtown. the convention cuts off everything south and east of it from the rest of downtown, and it’s pretty depressing to walk from say, west 2nd street, and watch the foot traffic taper down as you walk east across downtown. That rendering even shows what looks like a new footbridge across waller creek, which would be nice since the City of Austin will never fix the cesar chavez bridge which has a measly few feet of sidewalk barely wide enough for two people to pass each other.

  2. I was very excited about the project the more I looked into it and it obviously has incredible ambitions in both design and scale. I was happy that it replaced the dual tower design on rainey street, but now I am starting to learn that the development will still happen with another company and a terrible building. I understand that things were sacrificed in order to make this new project. But it is not fair to the city of austin to just give up and hand that amazing property to some greedy developer who has no interest in making our city better. They design cheap apartments and student dorms. I really hated the dual tower (I’ll admit I’m unrealistic b/c I just dont want anything to replace Rainey st.) but now I would do anything to keep what is being proposed off of that property. This is not some highway apartment complex in Houston. This is DOWNTOWN AUSTIN! We are building something here that is going to make us the best city in the country. Don’t come here to make a quick buck. Make something and be apart of this. Have some inspiration and do something bold. We want unique and outstanding, and that goes for everyone building on Rainey.

    I will step off my soapbox now.

    • Preach on.

      Inspiring design and vision often takes a back seat to value engineering, mitigating risk, availability of capital. That’s just the reality of getting things built. Development decisions are made to reduce risk, recreate a proven model, and avoid rocking the design boat tooo much. The safest design is often another beige box hotel, or cookie-cutter mid-rise apartment building. So that’s what gets built.

  3. According to the Statesman, Dinerstein is proposing just 250,000 sf for the 2-acre Rainey St site, which would be a FAR of just 3.0. I’m surprised they can make the project pencil out at such a low density.

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