Austin Fairmont Hotel To Break Ground November 3rd

Austin Fairmont Hotel To Break Ground November 3rd

Fairmont_Rendering_Oct2014_final

Some people, myself included, were beginning to think downtown Austin’s Fairmont Hotel was becoming development vaporware.  Back in March there was proof-of-life when they began fencing off the site.

Today, according to a press release sent to DAB, the Fairmont Austin, the first hotel providing direct access to the Austin Convention Center, is announcing that it has secured financing and will break ground on November 3, 2014.

Colony Capital has stepped in with project financing for the $370 million luxury hotel, which is expected to open June 3, 2017.

The site, located at the northeast corner of Cesar Chavez & Red River is a 1.74-acre parcel situated along the bank of Waller Creek. The hotel will be notable for having a direct connection to the Austin Convention Center, via an arial promenade being designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners (the firm selected by the Waller Creek Conservancy to develop a master plan for the Waller Creek district).

The finished building will no doubt add to downtown Austin’s skyline. At 595 feet tall, it will be second tallest structure in downtown Austin – the tallest being the 56 story, 680-foot Austonian.

Summary of what we know about the Fairmont Hotel…

  • Number of rooms = 1,066
  • Number of stories = 37
  • Square Feet = 1.4 million
  • Building Height = 595 feet
  • Delivery = June 2017

-Jude

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Fairmont Hotel, Red River @ Cesar Chavez, southwest POV





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

 





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.

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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.

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

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





The Whitley Apartment Building Is For Sale

The Whitley Apartment Building Is For Sale

Whitley Austin

Downtown Austin’s most recently completed apartment building is for sale according to commercial real estate company CBRE’s website.

The timing is interesting because the Whitley just welcomed its first tenants only a few months ago.  And, we were very excited when Royal Blue Grocery was announced as an anchor bodega-grocery store.

Construction of the Whitley was first announced back in September 2011, and would replace the former Whitley Paper warehouse that occupied a half-block at the northeast corner of 3rd & Brazos Street (just south of the Railyard condos).

Since the building’s completion, they have already achieved 66% occupancy, according to the info on CBRE’s website.   That’s nearly 176 apartments rented in just a few months!!!

Details:
-266 units (66% leased)
-16 stories
-12,000 ft of ground level retail space (100% leased)
-333 structured parking spaces
-Price is to be determined by market

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View of the Whitley from southwest corner of 3rd & Brazos





Downtown News and Rumor Round-up

Downtown News and Rumor Round-up

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Rainey Street District hotel breaking ground next month?

If you’ve been around downtown Austin since 2006, you’ve been hearing about the Hotel Van Zandt.

It was a sister development to the Shore Condos, sharing the northern end of the site.  Hotel Van Zandt was initially planned to be a $100 million, 29-story hotel and condo tower.  The scope has been reduced to 16 stories and will include just the hotel component.

We’ve heard all of this before. Developers are now telling the Statesman they plan to get going next month. This is the same thing they told the ABJ in March, which is a sign that it is indeed ready to roll.

Hotel Van Zandt was initially planned to be a $100 million, 29-story hotel and condo tower.  The scope has been reduced to 16 stories and will include just the hotel component.

Statesman has more

New Travis County courthouse up for debate

Courtmap

The ongoing debate for whether or not Travis County will enter into a deal for a public-private partnership to build a new courthouse downtown could be coming to a head.

Recently, the Statesman profiled some of the issues associated with the project, and on Tuesday the Commissioner Court talked to the finalists for the deal: URS and Broaddus and Associates.

The court did not take a vote when it discussed it at a hearing this past Tuesday, but is taking the issue back up this Tuesday.

The new courthouse could rise 17 stories next to Republic Square. Earlier this year, commissioners decided they will hold a bond election to finance the courthouse, but no date is certain.

If the deal ever falls through, or the public does not approve the bonds, it would put a lot that is not encumbered by capitol view limits back into the private market.

Statesman has more

Austin is a finalist to host the X Games

ESPN announced that Austin is one of four finalists to host the 2014, 2015 and 2016 X Games. The games would be held at the Circuit of the Americas, but without a doubt, we can expect something related downtown. If – of course – Austin ends up taking the cake.

For the record, I think it will.

Austin is competing with Chicago, Detroit, and Charlotte, N.C. I think both COTA and Gov. Perry will roll out the red carpet and offer just as competative package of any tax breaks the other cities and states can offer. From a ticketing and marketing perspective, the folks at ESPN must know that Austin is going to have the best draw among the kids and also know that marketing machines like Nike and Samsung already have the ground troops and past experience to tackle Austin from a marketing perspective, due to SXSW.

ESPN is sending envoys here next month and expects to pick a winner this summer.

KXAN has more

The saga of an expensive parking garage coming to a close?

For you readers who are devotees of downtown palace intrigue, the saga of Whittington v. City of Austin could finally be coming to a close.

The case started almost a decade ago, in relation to the public-private partnership the city got into to build the Hilton next to the convention center. The city seized Harry’s downtown lot and he sued them for it.

After a series of trials, the case made it all the way up to the Texas Supreme Court, which sided with the city.

Got to give it to the man, he knows how to dig in and raise hell. Although, he must have asked himself several times over the past few years: What would that lot have been worth today if the city hadn’t tied it up in litigation 10 years ago?

Maybe now, they will put all of that vacant retail space, which wraps the ground level of the garage, to good use.

ABJ has more





Royal Blue Grocery Announces Next Location @ The Whitley

Royal Blue Grocery Announces Next Location @ The Whitley

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Big news for those living and working on the east side of Congress Ave.  Royal Blue proprietor, George Scariano, confirms with DAB that the lease is officially signed with The Whitley!

This will be the locally loved grocer’s fourth location.  The 2300 ft store will anchor the Railyard District, and we can expect an opening in July.

The store will be a full blown coffee shop, offering beer & wine, with an on-site kitchen serving baja-style seafood tacos, tacos al pastor, and flattop burgers.

We can’t wait!





Why Are Prices Surging At The Railyard Condos?

Why Are Prices Surging At The Railyard Condos?

The Railyards Unit 235

The Railyard condos are unique.  The two low-rise buildings sit on two of the best sites in downtown Austin, and have usually been more affordable than the newer, sexier high-rises.  Part of the appeal is location: situated across from the Austin Convention Center, 100 feet from the MetroRail, one block from Congress Avenue, three blocks from competing luxury towers, the Austonian and Four Seasons.  The Railyard has enviable proximity to most anything in downtown Austin.

Remember last year’s NIMBY fury over Austin’s Short Term Rental ordinance (pdf)?

You would be in good company if you assumed that all of downtown Austin’s condos and apartments were making money on STRs.

You would be wrong, though.  

Downtown condos have home owners associations (HOAs).  HOAs have rules, and in downtown Austin those rules are usually antagonistic to short term rentals.  Breaking those rules could result in a $1000 per day fine by the HOAs.  Despite the fact that the STR ordinance does not regulate apartments and condominiums, last year’s fight with the City of Austin to regulate STRs wasn’t going to impact most of us living in downtown because of these HOA rules. [UPDATE: rules have been revised to cap STR permits in CBD multi-family buildings at 25%]

The Railyard condos are very, very unique.

This past November, just a month after Austin’s new Short Term Rental ordinance took effect, an enterprising Railyard owner recognized the Railyard’s bylaws did not forbid short term rentals and put together a fund to purchase several units.

The investment rationale is simple: opening up your condo as a vacation-rental-by-owner (aka. VRBO) during SXSW, ACL, F1 (just to name just the big opportunities, not to mention conventions) can yield more rent during those events than the total rent from a typical 12 month lease!  Same for Railyard owner-occupants who can lease their place out for a few nights, take a vacation, and make a couple thousand bucks.

The economics of Railyard ownership shifted overnight. Word quickly spread to the owners and a handful of Austin Realtors.  In the previous year (Nov 2011 – Nov 2012), 1bd/1ba units at the Railyard condos were trading at an average of $285/foot, and units with at least 2bd/2ba units were trading at an average of $275/foot. [UPDATE: one year after posting this article, the last recorded MLS sale at Railyard was a building record $415/foot]

Going forward, expect sale prices at the Railyard condos to be 20-25% more than last year, reflecting the new economics of embracing downtown short term rentals.  Owner-occupants are getting in on the action, too.

Offering the flexibility to lease your condo on a short term basis is a privilege that makes the Railyard unique among downtown condos.   This privilege has significant value.

STRs can be a win-win for owners and associations.  The key is balance and monitoring the impact on residents.

The Railyard HOA is smart to approach STRs with reasonableness and attach fees to the process.  These extra fees will help fund their operations, building improvements, and keep HOA dues low for homeowners.  Homeowners, who are also able to capitalize on their property.

I’ll stop short of advocating that all downtown buildings should permit STRs – I don’t agree with that.  However, there are several buildings that should be paying attention to what the Railyard is doing.  It seems reasonable for more HOAs to experiment with loosening their STR rules, monitor the process, use the money for building improvements, and course correct as needed.

-Jude

[updated 06/01/2014: It has been discovered that Brazos Place Condos at 8th Street & Brazos Street is doing something similar by permitting one-month minimum lease terms.]





What’s Missing? Clues To Downtown Austin’s Next Apartment Tower

What’s Missing? Clues To Downtown Austin’s Next Apartment Tower

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What’s missing is a clue to what might become downtown Austin’s next apartment high-rise.

Back in August we discovered the old warehouse on the corner of Trinity and Cesar Chavez had been acquired by World Class Capital Group, and quickly conceptualized into an apartment tower, with the working name of Trinity Place.

For decades, two small billboards stood at the eastern edge of the lot.  If you were heading east or west on Cesar Chavez you wouldn’t have missed them.  As of this week, those billboards have been taken down!

Now, WCCG would not decide to forfeit that steady billboard lease without a good reason.  I speculate this is a signal that development efforts are progressing.

Trinity Place conceptual footprint – Cesar Chavez @ Trinty (pdf)





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 11/24/14 12:04 AM PST. 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.

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