This Hotel Looks Just Like That Hotel

This Hotel Looks Just Like That Hotel

Where have I seen this rendering before?

It’s deja vu all over again!

White Lodging is losing no time getting to work on their third active hotel construction project in downtown Austin.

In late December, about three months after news leaked about the deal, planners filed a site plan and based on other documents filed at the city a clearer picture is emerging about the 300-room luxury hotel at 5th & San Jacinto, abutting the 6th Street Entertainment District.

According to city documents, the project will climb to about 20 floors, with a roof terrace, totaling 215,000 square feet.

Atlanta-based PFVS Architects Inc. are the architects of record.  PFVS already has a few hotels in Austin with their stamp on them, including the Westin at the Domain and the Marriot South Austin, off of I-35.  PFVS is also designing White Lodging’s other two current downtown projects.  White Lodging broke ground on a JW Marriott convention hotel valued at $300 million across from the Austonian last year, which is expected to open in 2015, and is working on a 296-room Hyatt Place under construction at 3rd & San Jacinto, expected to open this year. (Note: White Lodging also runs the Residence Inn next to the Convention Center.)

What is a bit surprising is how eerily similar drawings of PFVS’s Hyatt Place project, on 3rd and San Jacinto, appears to the renderings submitted to the city for the other hotel on 5th and San Jacinto, two blocks north. They are both about 300 rooms, and though the final products will probably be different, on the drawing board there is no denying they look quite similar.

Where have I seen this rendering before?

 

The 5th Street project comes to us from no other than Harry Whittington, who in this case created a joint venture with REI Real Estate Services LLC in Carmel, Ind., and White Lodging.

Whittington told the Austin Business Journal that after being courted by many developers his family concluded that building a hotel with the veteran hospitality developers was the route to pursue. (Whittington owned the lot for a whopping 45 years and is not in the business of selling his land.)

The site had entitlements for an 8:1 floor to area ratio, and zoning was successfully changed to provide a 13:1 FAR.

Something else lacking in the design are renderings that show the the building with a 6th Street POV – arguably the most important perspective for this hotel to blend into the neighborhood fabric.  Will it be a giant Plaza Lofts style flat blank wall looming over 6th Street?  I know the developer has heard these concerns, but we are left wondering about the results.

Should we expect more thoughtful design from architects and developers?  Absolutely.

Is this hotel better than the suface lot it’s going to replace?  Absolutely.

 





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.





Marathon Planning Effort Pays Off: 7 Rio Site Plan Permitted, Awaiting Construction

Marathon Planning Effort Pays Off: 7 Rio Site Plan Permitted, Awaiting Construction

7rio-siteplan-approval

An Englishman once said: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find you get what you need.”

And so it was for the folks behind a tower planned at Seventh & Rio Grande, named 7 Rio, who this month saw the City of Austin approve a site plan, allowing construction to move forward.

It was exactly one year ago that DAB posted that the 7 Rio apartments still had legs.

The project was one of a handful of [for sale] condo projects that took a back seat when lenders got squeamish in the midst of the Great Recession. In 2008, on the eve of the housing-crisis fallout, the builders projected a 3Q08 groundbreaking on a 34-story luxury residential 158-unit “point-tower” building.

That vision has been scaled back, and what is coming is a shorter building, with 24-stories, but packing in about 70 more apartments [for rent].

7rio-austin-site-rendering

original rendering of 7rio has since been scaled back

Part of the site is in the Capitol View Corridor, but a point-tower over podium design could have gone up as high as 50 stories. Given that demand remains so high for units in the urban core, this feels like a bit of a missed opportunity for CWS Capital Partners – the Orange County, California based developer – to create something striking, and the Austin community to reap some additional property tax and density.

One other observations is that the current site plan application says only “residential & parking,” while the initial proposal included 7,300 square feet of retail space.

Site vs. CVC

I’m just hoping CWS doesn’t sacrifice developing an inviting, pedestrian/shopper friendly building, for something barren of storefronts.

It is nice to see a project developed by a great local architect Brett Rhode getting off the ground, and we’ll all accept that the client calls the shots. (Note: Rhode: Partners portfolio still shows specs for the first design.)

 





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

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

whats missing from this picture.jpg

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)





Whitley: Downtown Luxury Apartments

Whitley: Downtown Luxury Apartments

Whitley Austin

Developers of the Whitley have launched their marketing website for the forthcoming 16-story, 266 unit downtown Austin apartment high rise.  AustinTowers broke the news in July that the apartment building, currently under construction in the Railyard District, would be branded as “Whitley” – a hat tip to the Whitley Paper company that used to occupy the site.

On the new website, we learn the 6th floor will host a mezzanine level pool deck.  The website also reveals certain amenities that suggest the building is targeting luxury apartment renters, by including a “Dog Park with Artificial Grass and Dog Washing Machine”, “Guest Suites Available”, and “Oversized Private Garages Available”.  Make sure the checkout the construction timelapse video.

Whitley Austin - Lobby RenderingThe Whitley’s site plan includes 10,000ft of retail space at the ground level.  CBRE is handling the commercial leasing with retail space being quoted at $36ft NNN.

Completion should be Q2 2013.

The address of the Whitley is officially:
301 Brazos Street (Brazos @ 3rd)
Austin, TX 78701

Whitley Austin Apartments - Pool Deck





Banger’s in Rainey Street District Downtown Austin – MENU, Review, Video, Pics

Banger’s in Rainey Street District Downtown Austin – MENU, Review, Video, Pics

BangersHouse

Today was the grand opening of Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden in the Rainey Street District of Downtown Austin.  Our office at the The Shore Condos is just a stone’s throw away, so we wanted to support one of the most anticipated venues coming to the ‘hood. We went, had a beer and some grub, and really just enjoyed the perfectly chill vibe, despite the crazy, terrible, make-me-want-to-stab-my-eyes-out heat.

Some will say this is Rainey Street’s answer to  [Read more…]





BY THE NUMBERS (June): Downtown Austin Condo Sales

BY THE NUMBERS (June): Downtown Austin Condo Sales

downtown austin condo price trends

In June, we observed downtown Austin condo prices averaging $381/ft for resales and $590/ft for new-luxury sales. With no new projects planned, a chunk of downtown Austin’s condo inventory is removed every month.

Pricing in Austin’s urban core continues to trend up for three reasons:

1) Shrinking inventory emboldens sellers
2) Low interest rates – hovering at 3.40% – enticing buyers
3) Migration patterns into Texas, specifically Austin, more specifically downtown Austin

Combined sales of new construction and resales removed 41 units from inventory in June, representing $25,156,400 total sales volume.

Currently, there are 94 resales and 172 new construction units available for sale in the downtown Austin core.

downtown austin condo price trends

June 2012 Resale Statistics

- # of resale transactions = 28
- avg price per foot = $381
- avg sales price to list price (SP/LP) = 91%
- avg days on market (DOM) = 17 days
- Total resales volume =  $12,829,900

June 2012  New Construction Statistics

- # of new construction transactions = 13
- avg price per foot = $590
- Total new construction sales volume =  $12,326,500

Downtown Austin New Construction Closings

ProjectDate of
1st Closing
# of
Closed Units
(Clerk)
# of
Original Units
(TCAD)
% Units
Closed
# of
Remaining Units
Average
# of Days
Per Sale
Trending Completion Date (estimated)
TOTALS29847063%172
Four Seasons ResidencesMay 7, 201010414870%446March 2013
W Hotel ResidencesJanuary 10, 20119715961%624February 2013
The AustonianJune 10, 2010
97163
60%666August 2013
The data was updated on July 1st, 2012. Any closings since then are not reflected. Only deed records counted. Data does not reflect units currently under contract. Deed records for parking spaces and storage units have been removed. Combined units were divided into their respective original units.




Fishing Pier Coming to Lady Bird Lake in Rainey Street, Downtown Austin

Fishing Pier Coming to Lady Bird Lake in Rainey Street, Downtown Austin

Rainey Street Pier Core Health

The focus is on inclusion.  That’s what Nicole Harmon of Core Health Foundation, a non-profit spin-off of Core Health (a for-profit facility focusing on rehabilitation of those suffering with brain injuries), tells me. The project is a fishing pier, located on the northern shore of Lady Bird Lake, just south of the Holiday Inn off I-35 in the Rainey Street District.  The project has been in the works for over 8-years, but was officially approved in 2010, and construction is expected to be complete in 2013.   And while the driver and primary purpose of this project is for [Read more…]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 11/23/14 2:00 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.

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.