The Highest And Best Use of Congress Ave Retail Store Frontage Is Not CapMetro

The Highest And Best Use of Congress Ave Retail Store Frontage Is Not CapMetro

capmetro-austin-congress-ave

One of the things that always seemed curious to me is how and why Capital Metro (@CapMetroATX) occupied prime square footage on a heavily trafficked part of Congress Avenue, next to Annie’s. For many years, Cap Metro occupied the first and third floor of this three-story building.

Well its lease expires this coming April, and it seems the landlord is raising the rent. As a result, Capital Metro is moving into 209 W 9th Street (southwest corner of Colorado and 9th), which is owned by Harry Whittington.  There, the transit agency is signing a 5-year $3.3 million lease on 18,800 square feet.  This will allow the consolidation of two call centers – one currently housed at the 323 Congress Ave.

For years, the good energy of clear windows (“fenestration” for my fellow wonks) and ambience of Annie’s seemed to kind of get sucked way by the dark, looming, uninviting storefront of Capital Metro next door.

So what’s next for 323 Congress?

The entire building is 21,900 square feet, and  features open floor layouts, ample lighting and excellent visibility to Congress Ave.  According to this undated flyer from Weitzman, it appears to be listed for sale “between $2.5 million and $7.3 million.”  Or, it could be for lease $24-36/ft/yr by Cielo Realty Partners, as it’s shown on Loopnet.

I’ll be surprised if this languishes too long.  Office vacancies downtown have recently fallen below 12%, according to this Dec. 11 Austin Tenant Advisors press release, which compares well to other major cities such as Atlanta which reports a 24% vacancy rate. Average lease rates for all classes are averaging around $30/square in the downtown area while landlords of Class A office properties are quoting $38/square foot, or higher.

This, in part, is being driven by a number of web/computing-based companies setting up shop downtown, which is about as a good of a thing as a city could ever hope would happen to its downtown office space.  We can expect a higher and better use of our ground level retail, however.

FYI urban transit commuter: The transit store, where folks pick up passes, pocket maps and the lost & found, is also moving to the new location on 9th Street.





Downtown Austin Pharmacies: CVS Pharmacy Now Open on Weekends

Downtown Austin Pharmacies: CVS Pharmacy Now Open on Weekends

cvs

Probably not the most urgent of news, but I got really excited about it none-the-less.

The pharmacy at CVS on 5th street, the only pharmacy in downtown Austin proper (the now closed Live Oak Pharmacy used to the closest next best thing), is now, finally, open on weekends!

For those living in downtown Austin condos like the Austonian or the Brazos Lofts, especially…your prescription filling life just got a lot easier.

And, just to be clear, this is NOT a plug for CVS, simply a plug for convenience.





2012 Downtown Living Tour – Showcasing Downtown Austin

2012 Downtown Living Tour – Showcasing Downtown Austin

DLTlogo

Next Sunday, April 22, 2012, from 11am-5pm, is the 2012 Downtown Living Tour.  The Tour is a showcase of homes located in Downtown Austin, and is put on by the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (it’s DANA’s only fundraiser, and helps keep the organization chugging throughout the rest of the year).  A portion of proceeds this year will also go to The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM).

The 2012 Downtown Living Tour has [Read more…]





Thursday CASH MOB @ Congress Avenue Card & Gift Shop

Thursday CASH MOB @ Congress Avenue Card & Gift Shop

cash mob

A Cash Mob is the same premise as a flash mob, but people all show up at a local business and spend money. It’s a simple and fun way to encourage people to support small local businesses by spending their money en mass.

How can I participate?

Just show up! Bring $20.00 to spend, a few friends and come to the Congress Avenue Card and Gift Shop to give a local business an “economic stimulus”. It’s a win/win, spend some money locally with friends and buy some cool stuff!

Event Details:
When: Thursday, April 5th 12-2pm
Where: Congress Avenue Card and Gift Shop (615 Congress Ave. bw 6th & 7th St.)
Why: Help a local business!
Bring: $$$ and Friends

cash mob

 

 





Street Patio Experiment: Congress Ave @ Royal Blue Grocery

Street Patio Experiment: Congress Ave @ Royal Blue Grocery

1 royal blue street patio

I love this idea for downtown Austin.  Convert two duck-in parking spaces in front of Royal Blue Grocery on Congress Ave, in order to improve the pedestrian experience and create a retail destination.

“Street patios” have been implemented before in other cities, successfully, under the badge of “parklet” or “pop-up” cafe.

Upon approval by Council, later this month, the initiative would be a partnership between the City of Austin and Royal Blue Grocery, with design coming from Studio DWG and civil engineering firm Big Red Dog.

The street patio in front of Royal Blue Grocery is just a trial run.  If successful we could see more street patios in other parts of downtown.  The results should provide more space for pedestrians and a cafe sitting area, similar to Jos on 2nd Street.  WIN!

More pics after the jump.   [Read more…]