Girls Night Out – Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Girls Night Out – Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Me and some of my lady friends enjoying culture at The Contemporary.

Note: This evening’s itinerary also works for date night!

I like to do a group outing with girlfriends once every week or two, but sometimes we get into a rut – where we are doing the same things, going to the same places, etc.  So, for 2014, I’ve made a commitment to try and mix things up a little (nothing too crazy) and try to do something a little different each time we get together.  Last night was our first night since the holiday madness, and me and gals decided to hit up the northern edge of Congress near the Capitol – frankly, a seeming no man’s land in the evenings.

Me and some of my lady friends enjoying culture at The Contemporary.

Me and some of my lady friends at the beginning of girls night.  At The Contemporary.

Stop 1 – 6pm: The Contemporary – The Jones Center at 7th and Congress

downtown-austin-contemporary-3

An artistic shot of the staircase at The Contemporary – The Jones Center. Photo by Lindsey Strobel.

For a steal at $5, you can get in to The Contemporary – Jones Center, and view the exhibitions on site (apparently, your receipt gets you [Read more...]





Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can Buy Downtown

Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can Buy Downtown

Neo Jumper

Christmas is in four days, y’all.  If you want to live dangerously – you can try doing your last minute shopping online and cross your fingers that it gets shipped to you in time OR you can go to the mall and get something completely lackluster, but why risk it?

You can pick up unique gifts right here in downtown without biting your nails about when it will arrive.  One of the many benefits of shopping local.

But Amber, you say, I don’t have the time to visit a lot of unfamiliar stores, look through all their wares, and make a decision.  Never you fear – Amber is here! I’ve done a little of the heavy lifting for you, and below provided you a curated list of some cool shops and some cool stuff they’ve got so you can run in, get a special gift, and run out.

REMEMBER – Check the websites for the store hours!  If you are unsure about something, probably also a good idea to call ahead!

My list, of course, is not exhaustive – if you know of a cool downtown / downtown-adjacent shop – feel free to tell us in the comments below!

[Read more...]





Waller Park Place Submits Site Plan for 3 Towers

Waller Park Place Submits Site Plan for 3 Towers

wallerparkplacerendering1

At  ~1,400,000 square feet Waller Park Place, a three tower mixed-use plan is the largest private development ever proposed in downtown Austin (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong).  It’s the vision of the Sutton Company, who formally filed their site plan approval application with the City of Austin last week.

Back in September, Downtown Austin Blog first revealed the concept  for the 3 acre tract stretching from Cesar Chavez to Davis Street, hugging Waller Creek.  Then it was being called Waller Center and seemed really to be just a conceptual vision.

wallerparkplacesiteplan1

Birds eye view shows planned orientation of three towers along Waller Creek

Below is what we know (note these numbers have gone up since Waller Center was announced in September and could still change)

  • Tower A – Office, 25+ stories, on the corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez
  • Tower B – Apartments, 50+ stories, internal on the site
  • Tower C – Hotel/Condo, 40+ stories, at Red River & Davis
  • Target FAR is 10:1
  • The architect is the IBI Group
  • No phasing is contemplated – all three towers built simultaneously
  • The site is part of the Waller Creek TIF district

With Block 1 (tbd) anticipated, and Trinity Tower (tbd) being conceptualized, Waller Park Place would be the last opportunity in downtown Austin for waterfront development with protected lake views.

WallerParkPlaceCrudeMassing5

Our own crude drawings showing how the new towers could fit into the skyline

Above and below are a couple of crude massing-drawings I made for each tower to help view the relative dimensions and heights of the three towers, and to help us see how these buildings will fit into the skyline.

WallerParkPlaceCrudeMassing3

Looking south – our own crude drawings showing how the new towers could fit into the skyline





Trinity Tower: Planning a 39 Story, 350 Unit Highrise

Trinity Tower: Planning a 39 Story, 350 Unit Highrise

Trinity_Place_site

Last year we discovered planning efforts for an apartment tower with the working name of “Trinity Place.”   The forlorn metal building on the corner of Trinity and Cesar Chavez was acquired by World Class Capital Group.

Since then, there hasn’t been a peep out of the site leaving many of us wondering what would happen there.  We’ve now discovered some proof-of-life based on public records filed by the engineering team.

99trinity_current2

corner of Trinity @ Cesar Chavez

The name “Trinity Place” has been scrapped, it is now dubbed “99 Trinity Tower” and is being proposed as a mixed-use residential skyscraper seven stories taller than the neighboring Four Season Residences.

The applicant is proposing a 39-story tower with ~14,000 square feet of restaurant on the ground level.  Those are unchanged specs from last year.  Above that, the first 8 floors will be dedicated for parking, with the remaining floors being dedicated to about 350 residential units.

Even with the Lakeside Apartments to the south, the structured parking garage will allow clear lake views for most of the residential units above.

The project is proposing Great Streets standards along Trinity St., and to build a hike and bike trail to connect to the existing Lady Bird Lake Trail.

While we know what is being proposed, it still remains to be seen if it will come to fruition in the end.  The applicant is trying to nail down the base floor-to-area ratio (FAR) provided by the zoning, and navigate restrictions within the Waterfront Overlay “North Shore Central” district and will have to wait for the city, which could take some time if history serves as a guide.

The ball is rolling on this site.  The demolition permit was issued to scrape the dilapidated metal structure for whatever lands there.  We are excited to see more.

***Below, DAB has mocked up a building envelope showing [extremely crudely!] how a 39 story building could fit onto the site, and how it would add to downtown Austin skyline.

99trinity_massing_crude

a crude massing by DAB of how a 39 story building would fit on the 99 Trinity site

99trinity_massing_crude2

At 39 stories, the tower would be taller than the neighboring Four Seasons Residences





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...]





Art in Downtown Austin – The Art-o-mat®

Art in Downtown Austin – The Art-o-mat®

art-o-mat-downtown-austin-2

I see this quirky little machine every time I walk in Whole Foods HQ downtown to get a healthy helping of freshly made vegetable juice.  But I’m usually in too much of a hurry to pay much attention to it.  I kinda always knew what it was, just never *really* looked at it.  However, I had a few seconds the other day and I FINALLY took a closer look and was just as charmed as I always thought I would be!

It’s a vending machine for reasonably priced art ($5!)!  Yay!

art-o-mat-downtown-austin

According to their website:

The inspiration for Art-o-mat® came to artist Clark Whittington while observing a friend who had a Pavlovian reaction to the crinkle of cellophane. When the friend heard someone opening a snack, he had the uncontrollable urge to have one too.

In June 1997, Clark was set to have a solo art show at a local cafe, Penny Universitie in Winston-Salem, N.C. He used a recently-banned cigarette machine to create the first Art-o-mat®. It was installed along with 12 of his paintings. The machine sold Clark’s black & white photographs mounted on blocks for $1.00 each.

The show was scheduled to be dismantled in July 1997. However, owner Cynthia Giles loved the machine and asked that it stay permanently. At that point, it was clear that involvement of other artists was needed if the project was going to continue. Cynthia introduced Clark to a handful of other local artists and the group Artists in Cellophane (AIC) was formed.

art-o-mat-downtown-austin-1

These little machines are all over the nation, with four locations in Austin (they are currently in Whole Foods Global HQ on Lamar, Whole Foods @ Arbor Trails, Whole Foods in Bee Cave, and the Mercury store in the 2nd Street District – Whole Foods @ The Domain is in the works). I LOVE this concept because I think these little pieces of art make great gifts, and are a way better way to spend $5 than on a coke and a couple of candy bars or useless pieces of junk that you may get from other vending machines.

I was so intrigued that I just had to find out more.  So, I got in touch with the owner of the concept, Clark Whittington.  First off, he had only positive things to say about Austin, which is not surprising in the least.  He says that Mercury was the first venue in Austin and they’ve been there about 6 years or so – he says that Mercury has been great to work with.  Whole Foods then contacted him and has since taken the concept under their wing, which he says has taken the concept to a whole new level.

He also told me that, even though the machines are throughout the US, there are several Austin-based artists who have work in the Art-o-mats. Here’s the list of current Austin-based artists:

Deborah Abbott
Marilyn Kirk
Jon Lawrence
Donna Toutin
Gabrielle Toutin

art-o-mat-downtown-austin-2

Clark says that the real mission of the project is to promote artists. They have about 120 machines and about 300 or so participating artists. He describes the concept as the balance of art versus commerce.

I asked him how the concept has grown over the years. How it had started from one machine in a coffee shop in Winston-Salem to 120 machines across the nation. Here’s what he said:

I don’t really contact people because when I do I get treated like I’m selling vinyl siding, so I wait until I hear from people and then go from there. We’re an art project – it’s not the best business model.  It’s really weird how art centers and museums – if I pitch someone – they just start crunching numbers.  Lots of times, businesses like Whole Foods and Mercury understand that there’s more too it than every little nickel and dime.  Art-o-mat is not pretentious – we are reaching out to everyone, everyone is invited to participate.

I just want to share this with the world – with people that do get it.  The last thing I’d want to do is expand in a way that doesn’t mesh with what we’re doing.  We have to be calculated and relaxed with how we do things.  Artists and hosts have to find us on their own.

Logistically, every machine is owned by the studio – not only to control the quality of inventory – but because, at the end of the day, this represents Clark’s livelihood. There are a few collectors that own their machine, but most are on a lease. Then the host buys art from Art-o-mat on invoice, as needed. Clark works with artists to curate and distribute the art for the machines.

Clark says they are in need of artists, especially Texas artists.  If you, or someone you know, has an interest in either hosting a machine or providing art for the machine – you can visit Art-o-mat’s contact page on their website. He seems to be pretty responsive.  Want to see some amazing samples of the type of art work in the machines? Visit their Flickr page.





Kimber Modern Is Coming To Downtown Austin – And It Looks Incredible

Kimber Modern Is Coming To Downtown Austin – And It Looks Incredible

kimbermoderncomestoraineystreet

If you have ever looked for parking behind the Continental Club on South Congress, you may have been surprised to see the Kimber Modern hotel quietly tucked along the back street.

The Kimber, with it’s clean, manicured building lines, has become a favorite destination for people visiting Austin, or even Austinites taking a staycation.

Though the notion of a Kimber Modern in the Rainey District has been percolating for a while now, the principals have been very tight lipped.

For the first time, we have an original rendering of the project that we can share, and can confirm that it will be called, simply, “Kimber Modern Rainey.”

Here’s what we know… 

- 30 hotel rooms (approx.)
- Four above grade floors
- One floor of underground parking
- Street level lobby, bar, pool, and restaurant open to the public
- Three floors of rooms
- Designed by Burton Baldridge
- Will be operated by Kimber Modern Team
- Co-Developed and built by Acero Construction

In almost poetic contrast to some of the recent cookie-cutter development in and around downtown, the Kimber Modern Rainey will be one of a kind.

Rendering of new Kimber Modern coming to Rainey Street district

Rendering of new Kimber Modern coming to Rainey Street district

 

It’s always refreshing to see a development putting forth a bold design vision.  Despite how much downtown Austin has evolved, many of us feel a bit let down by safe “beige box” aesthetic of several new buildings.  Hat tip to Burton Baldridge on the design.

Site as it is today

Site as it is today

 

The site for the chic bed & breakfast’s 2nd location will be on East Ave (near the corner of River St), sharing an alley with the core of Rainey Street.  Made up of two adjacent lots: 62 & 64 East Ave, it will welcome people into the neighborhood.

Site of Kimber Modern Rainey

Site of Kimber Modern Rainey

 

I’m excited that owner Kimber Cavendish and Vicki Faust are bringing this kind of quality, home-grown hospitality into the Rainey Street area, four years after they launched their South Congress base.

Notably, the South Congress location picked as on of 13 winners (out of 227 entries) in 2012 to receive the Texas Society of Architects Design Awards from a total of 227 entries.

The Kimber joins Hotel Van Zandt in the neighborhood, which finally erupted into construction earlier this year after years of smoke. Just outside the ‘hood the mega-luxury, mega-size Fairmont is also looking to get underway soon.





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 4/23/14 7:03 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.