City of Austin putting downtown real estate on the market

City of Austin putting downtown real estate on the market

I haven’t seen this hit the mainstream news yet, but a large 1.6-acre lot, with prime frontage along Waller Creek corridor and a potentially buried I-35 is on the market.  But, it’s future is uncertain.

The lot, at 408 North IH-35 between 4th and 5th Streets, is owned by the City of Austin. The city acquired it in 2010 as a staging area for Waller Creek Tunnel project.

City Lot Birds Eye

According to city records, staff said they will bring a viable bidder forward to Mayor and Council by the end of the year.  Current City procedure requires the approval by City Council of any sales of a fee-simple parcel after staff has successfully identified a willing and able purchaser. Under standard procedure, City Council is not involved in the development of bid criteria for proposers.

There is a rumor among downtown aficionados that the Austin Fire Department has been eyeing the parcel ever since the city bought it, as place to relocate the firehouse at Brush Square Park.

Despite being limited by a Capitol View Corridor in terms of how tall it could be, it could be tall enough for me to believe that a fire station would be a bone-headed, shortsighted use of the land!

Through tax increment financing (TIF), Austin has bonded out millions to pull a long corridor of downtown out of the Waller Creek floodplain, and won public approval to develop the Sabine Street Promenade – which runs adjacent to the lot for sale.

Further, the importance of a world-class project moving into this slot crystallizes when taken into context of the still-enduring vision by the community to cut and cap I-35. In June, TxDOT officially got behind the idea of depressing I-35 about 25 feet below the frontage road level throughout its downtown Austin stretch, from south of Cesar Chavez Street to north of 15th Street.


I’ll be keeping an eye on this site, and am at least excited that the RFP process required by the City should help make sure that whatever project lands here contributes to the Waller Creek evolution.


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. Where are the tracks for the metro red line in the I-35 depressed visualization?

  2. They should find a location for that firehouse and move the O Henry Museum and free up that entire parcel.

  3. Either the incorrect location is shown in the picture, or the property is in between 4th and 5th street.

  4. Isn’t the available lot b/t Fourth and Fifth Streets?

  5. I want a grocery store w/ housing above, please!

  6. Jude, I agree.

  7. What Paul said!!! The city should hold on to the lot until it’s know if the depressed I35 solution will pass. If it does, and the CVC is removed in this location, the value will drastically increase, and it would make more sense for a hotel that would have access to convention center, boardwalk over I35, and Waller Creek. Guests at hotels spend way more money daily than a resident at say a condo so it would be huge for small business in the area.

  8. Jude, I *may* have to disagree with you on this being a good use for Fire Station #1, While I agree there could be a “higher” use, I am not sure there could be a better one. Fire Stations and the like add stability to a neighborhood and Fire Station #1 needs a new home where it can more easily access IH-35, East Austin and river rescue. While this seem a mundane use of the site, it may be vital to a successful downtown.

    There was conversation in the last bond package for a $73M Fire Station and control center. If used appropriately, this could be a good use for the land, though removed from the tax roles.

    I can be convinced otherwise, but space for a new station is lacking and disappearing. Maybe this is just what Brush Square, and advocates for revitalizing that park block need. Maybe.

  9. This lot could presumably be removed from the CVCs if I35 is depressed. I’m guessing that the particular CVC this lot sits in is protecting views from I35. With a depressed I35, those views would no longer need protecting as they would no longer exist.

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