Downtown Austin Aloft & Element Hotel Proposal for Congress Ave

Downtown Austin Aloft & Element Hotel Proposal for Congress Ave

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At last night’s Downtown Commission meeting, we heard from White Lodging on their proposed 33 story, 353 foot, 410 key, dual-branded Aloft/Element hotel at 7th & Congress Ave.

They paid more attention to engaging Congress Ave this time, compared to what they did originally with the JW.  The rhythm of the columns, al fresco dining, and dramatic doorway from Congress are hat tips to connecting with the street scape.

The development is seeking a zoning variance related to step-backs and loading docks, which the DC voted to recommend to City Council provided that: 1) accommodation be made to the adjacent Hideout Theatre, which shares a party wall with the proposed development, 2) keeping the shared alley and sidewalks clear, 3) The South facing wall has no windows since the adjacent property could eventually be developed. There is a light well, but additional architectural consideration should be paid to this wall since this will be the most visible face of the building.

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One interesting feature of this proposal is there will be zero parking spaces (excluding ADA requirements) and only three valet spots.  This isn’t the first Congress Ave hotel concept to propose no onsite parking.

I’m a believer in reducing parking to increase demand for public transit and reduce reliance upon cars.  It’s a rip-the-band-aid-off and get through the pain approach.  But, only three valet spots for such a large building?  Haha, lets watch this play out!  White Lodging knows a thing or two about operating successful hotels and how to park them.  The free market will determine the wisdom of this decision.   If they make it work it will be a huge signal to other developers about what is possible.

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Overall, I’m impressed with the proposal. It’s reflective of a city that’s grown up (not growing up) and it’s important that we support projects that bring density to narrow lots.

Tall and slender, if built, this would be the first new skyscraper on Congress Ave since … White Lodging’s other hotel currently under construction, the 1000 room JW Marriott.

-Jude

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Downtown Austin Round Up: Fairmont, Waller, Trinity, Oh my

Downtown Austin Round Up: Fairmont, Waller, Trinity, Oh my

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Have you experienced the phenomena that BIG things seem to happen when you’re on vacation?  This past week, while we attempted to cruise, there were multiple status report updates about three tall projects in downtown Austin.

99 Trinity Tower Announces $100mm, 39 Story Apartment Highrise

99trinityaustinapartmentBack in November, DAB broke the news about Trinity Tower.  Located just east of the Four Seasons Residences, and north of Lakeside apartments.  This will become a very dense intersection.  We have big expectations that this highrise will fill the perceptive gap between the Rainey Street neighborhood and the rest of downtown Austin.  We’re thrilled that they are aiming high with a 39 story tower, which would be the tallest apartment building in Austin.  Demolition of the warehouse should commence soon.  (Statesman)

Waller Park Place Closes On Land

waller_center_austin_Rainey_perspectiveThe Sutton Company closed on their deal to buy Perry Lorenz’s incredible 3-acre assemblage along Waller Creek.  What Sutton is proposing is nothing short of the largest private development in the history of downtown Austin.  Three towers in the Rainey Street district, including significant Waller Creek enhancements, stretching from Cesar Chavez to Davis Street.  (Statesman)

Fairmont Selects Builder

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This was significant because half of the people I talk with have begun to think this project is vapor-ware.  The project was planned to break  ground a while back.  The Fairmont website is showing delivery in “2016+”, and the sign pictured above says “Opening Fall 2017″.  We hope this is a reliable signal that the project will break ground soon. (Statesman)

-Jude

 





Development Team Closes On Block 1

Development Team Closes On Block 1

Rendering by SCB from August 2013.  SCB builds some very classy buildings, btw

According to a City of Austin release, representatives with the City’s Economic Development and the project development team closed on the GWTP property (aka “Block 1) on January 31st.  The development team is Trammell Crow, the Hanover Company, and Pacific Life Insurance.

Block 1 is a pivotal downtown waterfront development.  It will improve connectivity with Second Street through to Nueces Street, the new Central Library, and the Seaholm District.

Orientation of Block 1

Orientation of Block 1

Summary of what we know about Block 1:

  • Located at Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Street.
  • Total project size is approximately 1.7 million square feet of mixed use development.
  • Block 1 totals 1.776 acres of land
  • 38 floor three-tiered mixed-use tower
  • expect 440 apartments, including 50 affordable units
  • 40,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The residential component is still being referred to as apartments for rent, and given Hanover’s participation we’ll take that at face value.  (Hanover developed the Ashton).  We should see site work commence in February with public streets and utility work, including the extension of Second Street.

Back in August we caught a glimpse of what Block 1 tower could look like.  According to today’s release, the development team continues to signal it will be a 38 story building with a three-tier design, which is consistent with the rendering and elevations we’ve seen.

If you look at the downtown skyline from the south (78704), you’ll notice there’s a giant gap in the skyline between the AMLI on 2nd to the east and 360 Condos to the west.  This project should fill that gap nicely.

More importantly, the walkable connectivity this project brings cannot be understated.  It’s literally creating more “grid” and that’s perhaps the greatest upside this project can deliver to city-dwellers. 

-Jude

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

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

Rendering by SCB from August 2013.  SCB builds some very classy buildings, btw

Rendering by SCB from August 2013. SCB builds some very classy buildings, btw





Demolition Begins For Dinerstein Development

Demolition Begins For Dinerstein Development

Southwest corner of East Ave at Driskill

Snapped a pic this afternoon showing that demolition is well under way along East Ave for the 9 tract assemblage which will host a Dinerstein apartment development, expected to be called Millenium Rainey (aka Rainey Center).

Millennium Rainey along Rainey Street

Millennium Rainey along Rainey Street

[Read more...]





Slake Cafe in Downtown Austin – No Muss No Fuss

Slake Cafe in Downtown Austin – No Muss No Fuss

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I never turn down a free lunch. So when Alex, the GM for Slake Cafe in downtown Austin at 7th and Brazos (where Bakerman’s Bakery used to be) sent me a note inviting me to come in for just that, how could I say no?

The weather was beautiful, so I walked from the office to Slake at around noon the other day.  There were several patrons in line already, and the tiny little front area of the cafe (apparently, the entire Slake space is about 3,400 sf, but it’s mostly kitchen) had a bit of a chaotic, but not bad, feel (there were people in line, people milling about waiting for their order, couple of folks eating at the sparse interior tables, 4 or 5 folks behind the counter – kind of a lot going on in not a lot of square footage).  They are about to [Read more...]





Public Art and Austin Floods

Public Art and Austin Floods

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I recently wrote a little blurb on The People’s Gallery, a project that’s part of the Art in Public Places program by the City of Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services department.  I’m a fan of the program, and think these types of City projects and programs help to make our city great!

That’s why I’d like to continue, from time to time, highlighting these little gems of public works in Downtown Austin. Today’s piece, I’m embarrassed to say, just came into my purview, even though I’m an almost daily runner of Lady Bird Lake’s 3 mile loop.

I happened to notice it the other day, and thought I’d share some shots of the work, particularly since they highlight some history of the lake and Austin.  The piece is done by Deborah Mersky and is called [Read more...]





Families in Downtown Austin Condos

Families in Downtown Austin Condos

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Sometimes when I’m chatting with a peer of mine about where they’d like to live, I ask them if they would consider downtown.  A common response to that question is “Well, I have (or want to have) kids….so….” as though that’s the consideration keeping them from a condo. I guess when people think of the demographic of downtown Austin (and, I guess, downtowns in general), they think that high-rises are for singles, young couples, or empty nesters – most folks don’t feel like condo buildings are places where families do or should dwell.

Well, believe it or not, there are lots of families living in downtown Austin that are bucking the stereotype.  I’ve had the chance of over the last several months to interview a few families living in downtown Austin [Read more...]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 4/17/14 11:50 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.