If you haven’t yet read this week’s edition of The Austin Chronicle – and seen the amazing front page photo/rendering – please check it out at once here! Stupendous reporting by Senior News Editor, Michael King, of breaking news regarding a multi-billion dollar plan to build a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in the middle of Lady Bird Lake, coupled with the new Light Rail line running straight through the center of the stadium as the train crosses the river.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a personal tour of ZACH Theatre’s new mainstage, The Topfer (pronounced top-fur) Theatre earlier this week. This theatre allows ZACH to truly make the jump from a small professional theatre to premiere regional theatre by providing a new, state of the art performance facility as part of downtown Austin’s already growing culture and arts scene. Downtown Austin needs a real regional theatre, and this structure and the excitement it will bring to the theatre and arts community is a huge step in the right direction.
Per an article in the Austin Chronicle (link) – ZACH Theatre had been contemplating building a third theatre in its complex as early at 1985, when they held over some funds from that year’s bond election to help fund building a third theatre. In 2000, the economy stalled, putting the project on hold, but, through a kick-start of funding of $10 million through the 2006 City of Austin bond election, and then fueled by direct private donation – the project was revived in 2007. Overall, it’s a $22 million project, and they still need to raise about $2 million for completion.
The ZACH Theatre compound falls within the Zilker Neighborhood Association, but it is easily accessible to downtown Austin condos and homes and, really, feels like a part of downtown to many. I was told the ZNA was supportive the variances Zach Scott needed to build the Topfer Theatre.
As a college Theatre Major and all around theatre nerd, I was soooooo impressed with the Topfer Theatre and Kuykendall Stage.
- Celebrated Austin actress Karen Kuykendall has her ashes kept under the stage, isn’t that crazy?! (What’s even crazier is that there are no “r”s in “Kuykendall”!)
- The Topfer Theatre has a LEED Silver Certification
- Over 70 new parking spots have been added to the ZACH Theatre compound
- 40 new trees were added to the lot, as well
- The AC and other mechanical components of the theatre have a separate foundation from the stage – this is to minimize any possibility of noise and rumbling during performances.
- The theatre’s design is taken from the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago (the house is a little narrower)
- The theatre house seats ~420
- The theatre was designed by the same architects who did The W – Andersson-Wise Architects
For more incredible pictures and theatre fun facts – check out Bryan Kosarek’s Gay in Austin Texas Blog.
Interested in searching for Austin homes for sale in or near Downtown Austin? Be sure to check out our property search to view Austin homes for sale.
Additionally, here are some condominiums in Downtown Austin that are near the theatre – to learn more about these individual buildings, visit their pages:
As a member of the now defunct Waller Creek Citizens Advisory Committee and a past resident at the Sabine condos with a view directly over the excavation site, I’ve seen planning for Waller Creek evolve over the years.
Earlier this week, Matt Parkerson in Council Member Riley’s office, invited me to join them on a tour of the tunnel. I jumped at the opportunity.
The logistics of mining under a city is fascinating. The tunnel diameter tapers wide from 20 feet to 26 feet in diameter as it approaches the outlet at Lady Bird Lake. The pace of progress is about 15 feet per day. Dump trucks make somewhere around 75 trips per day.
We entered the tunnel between 4th and 5th Streets. Once inside the tunnel we walked to the end of their progress, currently, just below Iron Works BBQ.
Once the mining is complete, the exposed limestone will be coated with concrete. Cost to construct the tunnel: $105 million.
If you’ve ever seen Discovery Channel special on how NYC subways were bored, know this is not like that. There is no giant spinning disc cutting through the earth. Compared to Manhattan granite, this Texas limestone cuts like butter. Like an old dot matrix printer, the boring head cuts away limestone with each back and forth pass.
As an aside: everybody on the tour was thinking the same thing. Why couldn’t we do this for a subway? Well, we can. One of the contractors shared (off-camera) that Austin’s limestone is [actually] perfectly suited for mining a subway tunnel and wondered why the city has not pursued that with more enthusiasm. The length of Waller Creek tunnel is roughly the same length to get from I-35 to Lamar Blvd. An identical tunnel for similar cost could support a subway to traverse east-west through downtown.
Thanks to Council Member Riley and his staff for the invitation!
The focus is on inclusion. That’s what Nicole Harmon of Core Health Foundation, a non-profit spin-off of Core Health (a for-profit facility focusing on rehabilitation of those suffering with brain injuries), tells me. The project is a fishing pier, located on the northern shore of Lady Bird Lake, just south of the Holiday Inn off I-35 in the Rainey Street District. The project has been in the works for over 8-years, but was officially approved in 2010, and construction is expected to be complete in 2013. And while the driver and primary purpose of this project is for [Read more...]
The video below is a virtual flyover of the building, and provides more insight into the design. (update: the video settings have been changed to private)
Let it be known as the Railyard District, that part of downtown Austin, south of 5th Street and sandwiched between Congress Ave and the Austin Convention Center. You could straddle the convention center and include the area east, around Moonshine, too.
It’s an interesting mix of conventioneers and locals, both feeding on chicken and waffles at Max’s Wine Dive.
In the past couple of years we’ve seen improvements and new businesses open in the neighborhood, including AF1 Racing, Vince Young Steakhouse, Hank’s Garage (which is gone), and Skinny’s Ballroom.
Walking around a post-SXSW absent is the hyper-pedestrianism of the past 10 days, and I observe a “coming soon” sign. I see more as I keep walking. In one lap around the Railyard district, I counted nine businesses or projects “coming soon”!
What’s COMING SOON to the Railyard District? [Read more...]
The influx of people for SXSW – traffic be damned – reminds me of what a 24/7 vibrant city looks and feels like. And, we’re getting there. Checkout an even cooler picture…