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.





Downtown Austin Pharmacies: CVS Pharmacy Now Open on Weekends

Downtown Austin Pharmacies: CVS Pharmacy Now Open on Weekends

cvs

Probably not the most urgent of news, but I got really excited about it none-the-less.

The pharmacy at CVS on 5th street, the only pharmacy in downtown Austin proper (the now closed Live Oak Pharmacy used to the closest next best thing), is now, finally, open on weekends!

For those living in downtown Austin condos like the Austonian or the Brazos Lofts, especially…your prescription filling life just got a lot easier.

And, just to be clear, this is NOT a plug for CVS, simply a plug for convenience.





Hotels in Downtown Austin: Girls’ Night at the Omni Downtown

Hotels in Downtown Austin: Girls’ Night at the Omni Downtown

omni logo

I already live, work, and play in downtown Austin, which means that I know a lot about this area.  However, one element that I’m not really that familiar with is the hotels in downtown Austin.

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary stay at the Omni downtown.  I decided to take advantage of the free stay and do a mini stay-cation with a couple of fun girlfriends.  I figured this would be a different way to get to know the city, and have [Read more…]





The Best Pedicure in Austin (that I’ve had so far….)

The Best Pedicure in Austin (that I’ve had so far….)

Hiatus Spa Austin

This past Sunday, I had the best manicure / pedicure that I’ve ever had.  I had the service at Hiatus Spa + Retreat, a spa concept headquartered in Dallas, but with a location on the ground floor of the Gables on West 5th – just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from Downtown Austin.

The whole experience there is top-notch from beginning to end, actually – but the actual service is just different enough from the other places that I think it deserves to be called the best.

There are two things that make it different than any other manicure / pedicure I’ve every had.  The first thing is [Read more…]





Glee. (Indirectly) Making Downtown Austin a Little More Environmentally Friendly

Glee. (Indirectly) Making Downtown Austin a Little More Environmentally Friendly

St. David's should totally enter the O. Henry Pun Off

Oh, Glee.  I  sometimes enjoy you, but often I am overcome with shame for watching you.  But, last week –  you actually accomplished something useful.  Because of you, Glee, I finally recycled my big ol’ bag o’ batteries.

Okay, let me explain. See, up until last week, I had been keeping this huge Ziploc bag stuffed with used up AA batteries under my kitchen sink.  I didn’t know where to take them and I always seemed to forget to Google a nearby location. So, the bag o’ batteries just kept getting bigger.

And then I started seeing this Glee PSA about recycling batteries.  Over. And over. And over again. [Read more…]