Downtown Austin Goes For The Goal – and the Gold!

Downtown Austin Goes For The Goal – and the Gold!

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.

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Mayor’s Chief of Staff Exits And Why You Should Care

Mayor’s Chief of Staff Exits And Why You Should Care

Casual observers of city hall, at first glance, might take little notice that Mark Nathan, Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s chief of staff, has announced his departure.

But it is a noteworthy event whenever an executive politician’s chief of staff exits. A chief of staff is the one who gets stuff done, while their boss is smiling for the camera. The office of chief of staff and the person holding it become synonymous.

To that point, the mayor said on his own website “Mark has been a driving force behind almost every major initiative we’ve undertaken.”

As a nerdish observer of City Hall, which is one level above casual, I can read into that a few ways, but the simplest is just to look at three things the mayor’s office has pushed in the past 12-16 months: A new downtown hotel, an urban rail system and the United States Grand Prix F1 race. (As for the F1 race, one could say Lee isn’t a “pusher” maybe just an adamant supporter. He was the only council member who wanted to approve the contract about 60 days ago, when his six other colleagues — including Randi Shade on her last day — voted to postpone the vote under threats it could blow the entire deal. That’s telling.) [Read more…]

Mega Presentation On Urban Rail Tuesday

Mega Presentation On Urban Rail Tuesday

NEWS FLASH: According to a source at City Hall, the Austin Transportation Department is slated to give a big presentation June 14 that will be “a substantial briefing” on urban rail and begins to start answering Uncle Lee’s 30 crucial questions and “then some.”

The mayor has pushed a 2012 bond election funding a first leg for a new mode of mass transit in Austin.

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Is Austin Bicycle Theft On The Rise?

Is Austin Bicycle Theft On The Rise?

There were more bike thefts reported in the heart of downtown Austin during the first five months of 2011, compared to 2010, according to city police records I compiled. However, reports are down in the South Congress area.

I know this because I decided to do my best Council Member Chris Riley impression — sans silver hair — and work on reducing my car usage in favor of pedal power to commute to the Capitol area. I bought a bike over the weekend, did some research and promptly shelled out another $200 for accessories, aimed mostly at anti-theft.

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Aquaterra Reanimated

Aquaterra Reanimated

Yesterday, DAB commenter Chop Chop reminded us that Aquaterra isn’t dead. Back in February the ABJ’s Jacob Dirr had word from Rhode Partners that the project, long forgotten, was gaining new traction.

Sure enough, we found the permits.

Liz Rau, an architect with Rhode Partners filed a new permit application on April 6th.  Simultaneously, general contractor Lyda Swinerton pulled permits for plumbing, electrical, mechanical.  The original and approved 20 story (163 unit) site plan expired on April 20th, so it’s possible we could see some changes.

With over $1B in debt, the developer, Crescent Resources, went through a bankruptcy in 2009.  From what we can glean from the news, the lenders took over the company.  With limited residential product coming to market, and construction crews looking for projects, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a project announced soon, and it might be Aquaterra [possibly rebranded].

Located at 210 Barton Springs Rd, next to the Hyatt, Aquaterra would have one of the best views of downtown Austin in the city.  Back in 2007, when the Aquaterra sales center was firing on all cylinders, they were seeing reservations for more than $500psf.  With the existing tier one buildings coming online, that would be a difficult price point to compete near over the next couple of years.

-Jude