About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of REATX 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 serves on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.

Austin Fairmont Hotel To Break Ground November 3rd

Austin Fairmont Hotel To Break Ground November 3rd

Fairmont_Rendering_Oct2014_final

Some people, myself included, were beginning to think downtown Austin’s Fairmont Hotel was becoming development vaporware.  Back in March there was proof-of-life when they began fencing off the site.

Today, according to a press release sent to DAB, the Fairmont Austin, the first hotel providing direct access to the Austin Convention Center, is announcing that it has secured financing and will break ground on November 3, 2014.

Colony Capital has stepped in with project financing for the $370 million luxury hotel, which is expected to open June 3, 2017.

The site, located at the northeast corner of Cesar Chavez & Red River is a 1.74-acre parcel situated along the bank of Waller Creek. The hotel will be notable for having a direct connection to the Austin Convention Center, via an arial promenade being designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners (the firm selected by the Waller Creek Conservancy to develop a master plan for the Waller Creek district).

The finished building will no doubt add to downtown Austin’s skyline. At 595 feet tall, it will be second tallest structure in downtown Austin – the tallest being the 56 story, 680-foot Austonian.

Summary of what we know about the Fairmont Hotel…

  • Number of rooms = 1,066
  • Number of stories = 37
  • Square Feet = 1.4 million
  • Building Height = 595 feet
  • Delivery = June 2017

-Jude

Fairmont_Rendering_Oct2014_final

Fairmont Hotel, Red River @ Cesar Chavez, southwest POV





Fifth & West Residences: The Next Austin Condo Tower

Fifth & West Residences: The Next Austin Condo Tower

view from east

The Statesman confirmed today what many of us have been expecting, the former offices of the Texas Press Association located at the corner of Fifth Street @ West Avenue, will be razed and construction to commence on a 39 story condominium.

Known officially as Fifth & West Residences, it is the first condo project in downtown Austin to reveal official plans to begin accepting reservations since Seaholm.  Seaholm Condos is notable as it was announced almost exactly one year ago, and was fully reserved within just a few days of that announcement.

We first learned about Fifth & West earlier this year when the project came before the Downtown Commission, and we observed just how compact a footprint the building will have.  So, maximizing FAR was crucial to developing the site.  One of the more notable pieces the developer offered for density bonuses was subsidized Car2Go, B-Cycle, and Shoal Creek Conservancy memberships for each residence.  It is to be determined if those commitments carried through the entitlement process.

[Interior renderings by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture]

Tall and slender (think Spring Condos) because of the property’s small foot print, combined with the the impact of the Capitol View Corridor, the building’s architecture will be a unique triangular tower, with the longest plane facing southeast.  The surrounding businesses, notably Austin Urban Vet, Kung-Fu Saloon, Jerry Kunz design, and Molotov, will remain untouched by the vertical development.

Below is a summary of what we know about Fifth & West Residences:

  • Project name = Fifth + West Residences
  • Address = 501 West Avenue, Austin, TX 78701
  • Project type = condominium
  • Number of residences = ~154
  • Target pricing = ~$740 per foot, on average
  • Building height = 448ft
  • Unit sizes = average of 1,624 sf  (1, 2, 3 bedroom plans)
  • Developer = Riverside Resources
  • FAR = ~20:1
  • Architect = GDA Architects (Interior Michael Hsu)
  • Anticipated delivery = Autumn of 2017

It’s interesting to see how a large Capitol View Corridor impacts vertical development, forcing architects and developers to finesse the building envelope.

Capitol View Corridor

A large Capitol View Corridor cuts through downtown Austin, Fifth & West to the left

Pre-sales process will be announced soon.  Until then, if you’re interested in making a reservation, contact us for more details!

-Jude

Comparison of GDA Architect's rendering to what the corner of 5th & West looks like today

Comparison of GDA Architect’s rendering to what the corner of 5th & West looks like today





Downtown Austin Streets Are Safer With Uber & Lyft

Downtown Austin Streets Are Safer With Uber & Lyft

uber

Update: 10/16/2014: The TNC Ordinance passed Council with a 6-1 Vote.  Council member Chris Riley’s press release HERE.

We celebrated Amber’s birthday this past weekend with friends and family hanging out with us at the Shore condos, and later crawling Rainey Street.  Everyone had a great time… and plenty to drink.

As we wrapped up the evening I observed 6-7 people use Uber to get themselves home safely.

I was struck by how effortless ride sharing is, and that it effectively keeps a percentage of drunk drivers off the streets of Austin.  Remarkable.

I think back to just last year, when getting a cab was a non-trivial event.  I’ve always been frustrated with taxis in Austin.  They are notoriously difficult to locate, arrive late, or didn’t arrive at all.  The result is that people would make the poor decision to just drive themselves after having a night on the town.

In cities where ride sharing is embraced, I fully expect to see data showing a drop in the number of DWIs.

Austin leadership should pay attention, and we’ll be watching as this topic goes before Austin City Council on the 25th.

-Jude

 





Hard Hat Tour Photos of Seven Apartments (née 7 Rio), Scheduled To Open This Winter

Hard Hat Tour Photos of Seven Apartments (née 7 Rio), Scheduled To Open This Winter

seven_apartments_austin_highrise_southern_view

Admittedly, I was one of the disappointed spectators when the original concept, proposed as “7Rio”, was reduced to 23 stories.

Still, for the past 18 months, or so, many of us have been eagerly watching the construction site at the corner of 7th @ Rio Grande.  Earlier this year I speculated that Seven could even “go condo,” but it appears that multi-family development continues to have legs.

Now that downtown Austin’s Seven Apartments is approaching completion, and will be delivering residences this winter, we were invited to take a hard-hat tour of the tower.  This would be a great opportunity to get some insight into a new community that’s about to open in our neighborhood.  I could also start to compare how Seven will compete with existing downtown Austin apartments for rent.

I love taking hard-hat tours.  There’s no better opportunity to see the guts of a building.  For me [and definitely NOT Amber!] riding up the bone-jarring ear-splitting construction elevator adds to the excitement.  Peeking through the elevator’s diamond perforated sheet metal, accepting your fate as it creeps higher, you get a unique sense for how each additional floor impacts your perspective of what’s around you.

Here’s what we know about Seven:
Average Residence Size = 924 sf
Average Price per SqFt = $3.05 per month
Number of floors = 23
Number of residences = 220 (172 1bds, 48 2bds)

Seven-Apartments-Austin-Rio-Grande-7rio- - 12

More pictures from the tour after the jump!

[Read more...]





Seaholm Condos Move From Reservations To Contracts

Seaholm Condos Move From Reservations To Contracts

Seaholm condos at 222 West Ave, rendering by STG Design

According to a press release sent to Downtown Austin Blog, 80% of the reservations for the under-construction Seaholm condos have become full contracts.

Last October nearly all 280 residences at the Seaholm condos were snapped up in a matter of days of the project being announced.  The resulting frenzy of buyers trying to reserve units became a bit of a cluster, leaving subsequent people interested with the singular option of joining a wait list.  Now, I expect, many of those existing Seaholm “wait-listers” will very happily absorb the remaining 20% (56 units) prior to the building’s opening next year.

Seaholm was the first downtown Austin condo project announced post-recession.

When announced last year there were precisely zero competing high-rise condo proposals, no remaining inventory from the last building cycle, nor were there many downtown resales to whet buyers’ appetites.  Combined with below market rate pricing [relative to the newer downtown towers], the swell of interest in Seaholm was not at all surprising.  Seaholm’s rapid absorption reflects superb timing.

Trader Joe’s, the national grocery chain anchoring the development, should be open by the time the residences begin to receive their certificates of occupancy next year.  We’re stoked to see that the Seaholm “district” will be immediately active with retail and residents upon the building’s opening.  The entire development will be a solid addition to the increasingly pedestrian fabric of downtown Austin.

Interestingly, Seaholm could be getting a neighboring tower within a couple of years, too. Earlier this month Constructive Ventures announced a revitalized proposal for a 50+ story tower caddy-corner to Seaholm.

-Jude

Renderings courtesy of STG Design

Seaholm condos – Northwest elevation.  Renderings courtesy of STG Design

 

 

 





50+ Story Downtown Austin Tower Envisioned By Constructive Ventures

50+ Story Downtown Austin Tower Envisioned By Constructive Ventures

constructive-ventures-austin-energy

The Statesman is reporting some exciting news for the Austin Energy Control Center site.

Back in 2010, Constructive Ventures entered into a “Master Development Agreement” with the City of Austin for an agreed upon “transfer price” of $14,500,000.  Now that the economy is starting to show signs of strength, the developers think the next couple of years could be the right moment to deliver a 50+ story condo and office tower.

Constructive Ventures has a strong track record of development in Austin, including: Spring Condos, Barton Place, Pedernales Lofts, and Este.

The 1.7 acre site is located immediately north of the Seaholm condos, which is under construction, and west of 360 condos.  The site is one of the last missing pieces for developing the southwest district of downtown Austin.

While still a vision, if built, this would be an impressive addition to the downtown Austin skyline.  More important is this development would further improve the street-level experience for pedestrians.

Summary of what we know:

– 400 residences (condos for sale)
– 50+ stories
- 120,000 square feet of office space
– 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurants

The design has shifted from a two-tower plan to a single tower, and the architect of record is Brett Rhode, who also designed 7rio, Aspen Heights, and The Catherine (née Aquaterra).

Construction could begin as early as Q4 of 2015. Expect capital market conditions to dictate exactly when it could happen. Whenever it begins, expect 2.5 years to complete construction.

Just for fun, in the image you see above, we’ve overlaid a building massing onto the site in order to show [very crudely!] how a 50+ story tower fits into the skyline.  From the Statesman article, [architect] “Brett Rhode said the tower will be a mostly glass, with landscaped areas on different levels that will break down the scale of the building and enhance its visual appeal.”

-Jude

constructive-ventures-austin-energy





Why It’s Bull****: The Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet Is Too Tall

Why It’s Bull****: The Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet Is Too Tall

waller-creek-tunnel-height

Had the weekend to catch up on some old news, and this issue of the Waller Creek Tunnel inlet being too tall smelled foolish from the first I heard about it.

Kudos to the Statesman’s Sarah Coppola for the revealing a potential $45mm fix to reduce the height of the Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet would be wasted money since the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is already blocking the view.

Say what?! That’s right. “Fixing” the inlet structure to be fully compliant with the CVC will not regain any view! An existing government building is blocking the view already.

The Waller Creek Tunnel Inlet is under construction in Waterloo Park. This is the business end of the tunnel construction which was on target for completion in mid-2015.

It was almost two years when the tunnel’s under ground dig was passing beneath the Sabine.

I remain optimistic that elected officials at the local and state level will apply reason, rather than force the taxpayers to pay to bring the inlet into CVC “compliance.”





Forgotten About Downtown Austin Retail Space Available

Forgotten About Downtown Austin Retail Space Available

601e5thretailaustin

Many of you have passed by the Convention Center parking garage, and could be forgiven for not noticing the vacant retail space that wraps the ground level of the garage.  For the better part of 10 years the City and Harry Whittington were entrenched in lawsuits.

The space is finally available and the City is looking to get it leased up quickly.  The location at 601 e 5th Street is one block from the Metro station, Convention Center, Moonshine, and 6th Street.

I think if the City gets a synergistic mix of tenants this could be the beginning of a downtown retail hub, anchored by Waller Creek and the Metro station.  The location is excellent and is only made better with obvious access to parking above.

convention-center-garage-retail

Within a half-mile you’ll find 7,365 hotel rooms, ~6mm feet of office, 69 retail stores, 84 restaurants.  The City had an appraisal completed pegging the anticipated rent rate of $15.00-$18.00 NNN per year, which seems pretty conservative, even for the shell condition of the space.

There are three retail spaces available along Red River, ranging from 3,580 ft for the smallest space to the total contiguous 14,890 ft.

If you’ve got a good idea, the City is accepting lease proposals.

-Jude

p.s.  If you want to check out the building, the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently relocated its visitors center to one of the prominent spaces along 4th Street (much better digs than their old 6th Street spot, IMO, and includes curated murals from local artists).

601_E_5th_Street_-_Attachment_A





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 10/25/14 2:45 PM PDT. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided “AS IS” and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

Information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2014.