As far as I know, there aren’t currently any Cuban restaurant concepts in downtown Austin proper. Well, there WASN’T before this week, anyway. There’s a new one popping up in the warehouse district, where the now defunct Stack Burger Bar used to be (one of the restaurant concepts owned by the now infamous Yassine Enterprises).
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.
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.
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 … well… White Lodging’s other hotel currently under construction, the 1000 room JW Marriott.
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.
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
Back 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
The 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
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)
Some of you will remember 2010 when a Starwood backed “1 Hotel” was proposed for the corner of W. 5th & Colorado Streets (201 W 5th Street). At the time, the low-rise-circa-1980s structure was demolished (<– check out the old pics and hotel rendering), creating the current surface parking lot and food trailer court that exists today.
A site plan application filed by Bury with the City shows a 20 story building
surpassing 344ft. The elevation actually starting with 100 ft at grade, thus putting the above ground height, including mechanical, at ~269ft (thanks to Kevin Lehnhardt for the insight!). Last year, Dallas-based Lincoln properties planned a 16 story tower, so it’s grown a bit since then.
The valuable CBD development site is not encumbered by a Capital View Corridor, and is an entry point to the Warehouse District. Once they break ground, this will be the second major office tower under construction along Colorado Street. Combined with the construction-soon-to-commence Gables/Hotel ZaZa at 4th & Guadalupe, the new density bodes well for more daytime retail and restaurant offerings in downtown Austin.
The latest bike share hub being installed this morning at Davis & Rainey Street. Just in time for SXSW, this is a good choice of location in the neighborhood. Across the street Hotel Van Zandt is under construction.
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.
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.
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.
Stop 1 – 6pm: The Contemporary – The Jones Center at 7th and Congress
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…]