Handful of This Week’s Downtown Austin Events (and one on the East Side)

Handful of This Week’s Downtown Austin Events (and one on the East Side)

DANA Urban Core Happy Hour
Sunday, November 16, 2014 – 2pm-4pm
Hotel Ella

RSVP Required.


DANA members and guests are invited to enjoy the hospitality of the recently revamped Hotel Ella.

On the menu:

  • Truffle Risotto Cakes
    Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli
    Chorizo stuffed bacon wrapped dates with piquillo pepper sauce
    Antipasta Buffet Bar with imported cheese, house cured meats, preserved local fruits, and peppered flatbread with assorted crackers

+ complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails!

Creek Show, Light Night
Thursday, November 13, 2014 – Sunset ’til Late
Waller Creek (between 5th street and 7th street)

Event website.

"Flow" installation, Design Workshop

“Flow” installation, Design Workshop

As the sun sets on Waller Creek, five site-specific light installations will be revealed. These installations, all created by Austin-based architects and landscape architects, will illuminate Waller Creek in new and exciting ways. See the designs, hear local music and learn more about the future of Waller Creek.

East Austin Studio Tour
2 Weekends: November 15-16, November 22-23 – 11am-6pm
Various locations

Event website.


Big Medium presents the 13th East Austin Studio Tour! EAST is a free, annual, self-guided art event occurring over two weekends in November, providing the public with an opportunity to meet the makers: the local artists and artisans who leave a lasting imprint on Austin’s vibrant, dynamic culture. Tour-goers are invited to discover new artistic talent, see working studios, learn about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and explore unique exhibition spaces and local businesses.

One of the artists we love to support, Hallie Rae Ward, will be showcasing her work at Createscape Coworking.  Check it out!

Forgotten About Downtown Austin Retail Space Available

Forgotten About Downtown Austin Retail Space Available

Many of you have passed by the Convention Center parking garage, and could be forgiven for not noticing the vacant retail space that wraps the ground level of the garage.  For the better part of 10 years the City and Harry Whittington were entrenched in lawsuits.

The space is finally available and the City is looking to get it leased up quickly.  The location at 601 e 5th Street is one block from the Metro station, Convention Center, Moonshine, and 6th Street.

I think if the City gets a synergistic mix of tenants this could be the beginning of a downtown retail hub, anchored by Waller Creek and the Metro station.  The location is excellent and is only made better with obvious access to parking above.


Within a half-mile you’ll find 7,365 hotel rooms, ~6mm feet of office, 69 retail stores, 84 restaurants.  The City had an appraisal completed pegging the anticipated rent rate of $15.00-$18.00 NNN per year, which seems pretty conservative, even for the shell condition of the space.

There are three retail spaces available along Red River, ranging from 3,580 ft for the smallest space to the total contiguous 14,890 ft.

If you’ve got a good idea, the City is accepting lease proposals.


p.s.  If you want to check out the building, the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently relocated its visitors center to one of the prominent spaces along 4th Street (much better digs than their old 6th Street spot, IMO, and includes curated murals from local artists).


Rumors Surround Medical School Downtown

Rumors Surround Medical School Downtown

The Austin American-Statesman ran a front page story today teasing a bio-tech innovation district downtown around the new Dell Medical School. (That the story ran one day after The Mohawk issued an April Fools press release lamenting the demise of cool Red River is pretty funny.)

Mohawk shenanigans aside, the Statesman story didn’t really say much new, but it did put ink to paper on a handful of rumors that have been floating around and I had heard, which I’d like to capture for you here.

1) There is universal consensus is that the teaching hospital will be built by Seton’s Brackenridge Hospital. No one with a six-figure salary will confirm it unequivocally, but the key suspect location for the hospital is the parking lot on the south side of the Erwin Center. This site is known as the “Elephant Lot” and is so named for the elephants who call it home when the circus comes to town.

2) The medical school is being proposed to exist atop the site where the tennis courts are now, which is UT land. The medical school will be housed in two buildings: an administrative and classroom space and a research area. Recently, UT hired Boston planning and design firm Sasaki Associates Inc. – which is currently developing an update to the UT-Austin campus master plan – to also develop a medical district master plan.

3) Some people are talking about tearing down the Erwin Center eventually to make room for more medical stuff. Whether this comes to fruition remains to be seen. Where UT would house indoor sports and where older people would go to replay their high school rock years is undetermined. This would perhaps be laid out when UT unveils its updated master plan. At a recent regent’s meeting, President Bill Powers said it was almost ready. (That was before all the drama unfolded and his job appeared in peril, so unveiling the master plan is probably on the back burner for now.)

4) Brackenridge, the current hospital, would not be demolished. Instead the majority of the facility will be re-purposed into things like meetings spaces. A simulated treatment center, used to train nursing students from colleges all over the area, would remain in use at Brackenridge.

5) Something I had not heard before is talk of “straightening out Red River Street, whose current path includes an westward bulge where it intersects with East 15th,” as noted by the Statesman. How this would be paid for is not mentioned and I presume it would be a heavy Public Works project that would have to come out of another city bond measure to fund the job. We’re talking major engineering, not the kind of construction we see for Great Streets downtown.

6) The Statesman also quoted the Mayor as saying that the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and the Travis County medical examiner’s office, both of which occupy city-owned land under leases, could be re-purposed.

7) Two things not mentioned in the Statesman story: The medical arts master plan impact on the Waller Creek taxing district, or the impact of Urban Rail on this plan (if it ever goes to a vote and is passed).

8) It must also be said: A medical arts district downtown will continue to drive housing demand in the core for a variety of reasons. For that reason alone, I am for it.

And Then There Were Two

And Then There Were Two

A well timed announcement for a 50+story hotel at Red River and Cesar Chavez has shifted the attention away from the Mariott Marquis seeking a waiver of $4MM in development fees.

The latest hotel announced by Manchester Texas Financial Group is receiving good reviews for its design, ambition, and potential for embracing the Waller Creek District Master Plan.

To be clear, there really isn’t a choice here.  Each project is pushing forward on their own merits.  But the timing begs the question “which building can break ground first?”.

Both would be significant additions to the skyline and economy.  Development fee waivers, if any, will likely go to the project that is most prepared and that can begin construction soonest.

That’s incentive!

Below is a rendering of the “Grand Hotel” at Waller Creek

grand hotel on waller creek