Archives for August 2013

A Glimpse Of What Block 1 (Green Water) Will Look Like

A Glimpse Of What Block 1 (Green Water) Will Look Like

It’s been a long time coming for the $500MM Green Water Treatment Plant redevelopment, situated along Cesar Chavez, bounded to the west by Shoal Creek, and to the east by Silicon Labs.  We’ve stumbled upon good reason to be excited that development could begin soon.

Back in May, when a site plan application was submitted to the city, we shared with you that the first phase of the new Green Water development – a residential highrise known simply as Block 1 – was moving from possibility to reality.


Block 1 is the NW corner of Cesar Chavez @ San Antonio Street

But I, along with nearly everyone else, was kind of confused about what exactly was being planned and how close the Green Water vision was going to match the original vision after a tree preservation snafu at City Council.  This has been resolved and the plan is to incorporate the trees into the design.

Updated elevation drawings were submitted to the city which show a building that steps back from Cesar Chavez.

We can expect that the first phase will be a 38 40-story mixed use building with a total of 446 units. Majority one-bedroom, but included efficiencies, two-bedrooms and three-bedrooms, ranging from about 450 square feet to 2,000.   It is anticipated these will be apartments (for rent).


South and East Elevation Drawings for Block 1 by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

At street level, we should see 14,000 square feet of retail, 15,000 square feet of restaurant space, and another 23,000 of office space.

The project is being developed by Trammell Crow and designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), an award winning architecture, interior design and planning firm with offices in Chicago and San Francisco, who has some very classy buildings all over the world.

If you spend some time perusing SCB’s design portfolio, I think you can start to feel some excited anticipation for this on the Austin skyline.  No doubt, numerous tourists and passers by of what has become a fenced off lawn have wondered just what is going there.

While we can now see the profile the development, we eagerly anticipate some updated renderings.

DAB First Look: These Are The Top 3 Seaholm Intake Ideas You Voted For

DAB First Look: These Are The Top 3 Seaholm Intake Ideas You Voted For

Earlier this week, the City of Austin announced the Top 10 and requested public input to select the Top Three ideas for the redevelopment of the Seaholm Intake Building (that concrete bunker on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake by the train bridge).

Below are the Top Three finalists.  Ostensibly, these are three designs the public most preferred.

Each of the winners get $5,000, but it is unclear if their ideas will ever become a reality. This fall or winter City Hall will issue an RFP for the project, and presumably these design winners stand a better chance than others of being selected. However, it doesn’t appear like this is going to go down like the Waller Creek competition did and these winning ideas are just that: ideas.

Below (in no special order) are the three winning visions, as selected by an anonymous jury of 10.

“Link” – Gumbully (pdf)

Team: Brendan Wittstruck, Justin Beadle, Philip Burkhardt, Roberto Jaime Deseda, Heath Henderson, Julia Weese-Young


“Link” – Gumbully

“Lakehouse” – BOKA Powell + Design Workshop (pdf)

Team: Laura Bryant, Nathan Wilcox, Alex Ramirez, Sarah Simpson, Allison Moore Eric Van Hyfte, Kim Villavicencio, Philip Koske, Steven Moore, Tim Campbell, Mary Martinich, Conners Ladner, Jason Ferster, Magda Sayeg (local artist), Will Steakley (DEN)


“Lakehouse” – BOKA Powell + Design Workshop

“Intake” – Gensler Team George (pdf)

Team: George Blume, Brittney Couch, Jesse Adler, Vineta Clegg, Chris Curson, Adrianna Hong, Gerardo Gandy, Stacy Reed


“Intake” – Gensler Team George

Downtown News & Rumor Roundup

Downtown News & Rumor Roundup

Seaholm Intake given new lease on life

This Thursday, City Hall will announce the top three submissions for the Seaholm Intake reuse project, which seeks to breath life into a behemoth concrete building on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake.

The top ten visions were announced just recently and KVUE did a nice job of compiling an in-depth 27-pic slide show of the ideas.

This is a project long simmering that is starting to boil. A big hat tip to Council Member Chris Riley’s office and the City Parks and Rec Department for keeping the heat on.

Look back here Thursday for the Top 3 finalists.

Travis County Courthouse update

Travis County Commissioners Court has decided how it wants to build a proposed new civil and family courthouse, Community Impact reports.

The project is controversial because the county paid a hefty sum for a parking lot, effectively removing one of the last remaining developable blocks for a mega tower in downtown from the tax rolls.

The county is going with the design-build route, which puts the risk on the county but allows it to retain more control of the project. The alternative would have been a public private partnership, which would have deferred risk, but loosened county control.

The county plans to float bonds for the project, and confirmed plans to go to voters for approval at some unknown date.

I’m not going to hold my breath until a new county judge is elected. Either Andy Brown or Sarah Eckhardt could change course if elected, and I’m not entirely sure the public will approve the project to begin with.  If you’ve ever suffered through a Travis County Commissioner’s Court hearing, the court doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Dropbox moving into downtown Austin

Silicon Hills darling Dropbox is following other tech leaders and establishing another office in Austin, rumored to be downtown. Take that, Domain and Williamson County!

Two downtown developments gained site plan approval

When proposing a new project, the site plan approval period is the longest phase of city bureaucracy, laden with risks that can delay or derail a project. Getting the plans approved is a milestone.

Rendering of Capital Studios by Dick Clark Architecture

Rendering of Capital Studios by Dick Clark Architecture

In July, Capital Studios — a smart project adding affordable multifamily to downtown — and a new hotel at at Fifth and San Antonio (Derp: San Jacinto) both received site plan approvals.

The next step, which can happen in relatively short order, is to get a building permit, and break ground.

Here’s to hoping the hotel changed the architectural design a little. You may recall a January post where I poked fun at it for being a carbon copy of another hotel down the street.  You be the judge.

I-35 Cut ‘n’ Cap proposal getting national attention

I haven’t posted on the Reconnect Austin campaign to bury I-35 yet. For the record, I am for it, not the least for how it would open up the Waller Creek district in an unimaginable way.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, the national sustainable transportation advocacy blog recently featured it.

Crowdsourcing A Road Map For Austin Bike Share

Crowdsourcing A Road Map For Austin Bike Share

Austin’s bike share program is finally really beginning to roll.  This is a monumental achievement for Austin’s urban core.

Later this year, the first 10 stations with about 100 bicycles will be in operation. The remaining stations will follow in Spring 2014. In total, the system will have approximately 400 bikes, 600 docks, and 40 stations.


This bike share system, long passed off as a novelty, will become integral to City of Austin decisions regarding mobility and transit policy in the urban core.  I’ve been advocating since 2010 that the return on investment is huge.  For distances of less than one-mile, these are cost-effective systems of getting urban-Austinites and visitors where they want to go.  The system encourages users to spontaneously decide to “go further” than they would have otherwise gone on foot – an amazing recreational amenity for our city.

The city just launched a new website ( soliciting feedback for where the public (that’s you!) would want to see bike share kiosks placed around the city and and a number of public engagement events are scheduled – including one today at City Hall.  The nifty little website (produced out of the Open Austin collaborative) lets anyone suggest a location and others vote on the location.

Below is a screen grab showing where people have suggested locations.  I’ve highlighted a few “no-brainer” locations with green dots.

Very exciting stuff.