Girls Night Out in Downtown Austin – Eat at Chavez

Girls Night Out in Downtown Austin – Eat at Chavez

chavez-austin-restaurant-sign

I never thought I’d say this, but if you want to check out a really cool new restaurant, you should hit up The Radisson at Congress and Cesar Chavez.

No kidding.

The Radisson is now the home of the simply hip and delicious new restaurant, Chavez, owned by Parkside’s (and Backspace’s) own Shawn Cirkiel.

[Read more...]





Development Team Closes On Block 1

Development Team Closes On Block 1

Rendering by SCB from August 2013.  SCB builds some very classy buildings, btw

According to a City of Austin release, representatives with the City’s Economic Development and the project development team closed on the GWTP property (aka “Block 1) on January 31st.  The development team is Trammell Crow, the Hanover Company, and Pacific Life Insurance.

Block 1 is a pivotal downtown waterfront development.  It will improve connectivity with Second Street through to Nueces Street, the new Central Library, and the Seaholm District.

Orientation of Block 1

Orientation of Block 1

Summary of what we know about Block 1:

  • Located at Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Street.
  • Total project size is approximately 1.7 million square feet of mixed use development.
  • Block 1 totals 1.776 acres of land
  • 38 floor three-tiered mixed-use tower
  • expect 440 apartments, including 50 affordable units
  • 40,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The residential component is still being referred to as apartments for rent, and given Hanover’s participation we’ll take that at face value.  (Hanover developed the Ashton).  We should see site work commence in February with public streets and utility work, including the extension of Second Street.

Back in August we caught a glimpse of what Block 1 tower could look like.  According to today’s release, the development team continues to signal it will be a 38 story building with a three-tier design, which is consistent with the rendering and elevations we’ve seen.

If you look at the downtown skyline from the south (78704), you’ll notice there’s a giant gap in the skyline between the AMLI on 2nd to the east and 360 Condos to the west.  This project should fill that gap nicely.

More importantly, the walkable connectivity this project brings cannot be understated.  It’s literally creating more “grid” and that’s perhaps the greatest upside this project can deliver to city-dwellers. 

-Jude

South and East Elevation Drawings for Block 1 by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

South and East Elevation Drawings for Block 1 by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

Rendering by SCB from August 2013.  SCB builds some very classy buildings, btw

Rendering by SCB from August 2013. SCB builds some very classy buildings, btw





Storage Wars: Top Three Options For Condo Dwellers

Storage Wars: Top Three Options For Condo Dwellers

usu2

I recently helped a couple downsize from a 3,000sf suburban home into a 1,000sf condo.  Getting this empty-nester couple to move would not have been possible without storage.  They purged a lot, but still ended up using all three of the options below.

Where space is scarce, storage is costly.  Prices for storage units have gone up in recent years.  A few times each year we see a storage unit come up for sale at the Shore Condos.  The last one was ~$7500.  Recently, I observed at 360 condos a storage unit trade for $15,000.  Storage units at the Austonian will trade for ~$20,000, on average.

Storage units in building
Cost: varies, $2,800 – 20,000 (rent $75 – 200+/month)

image-8Storage closets/units/lockers come in many shapes and sizes.  Most high-rise condos do not convey with a storage closet (some do, for example Bridges On The Park and Brazos Place). The ones that do don’t always have enough storage to meet demand.  Sometimes it’s just a fenced cage, other times it’s an actual closet with lockable door and electricity.

Unless a storage unit conveyed with the sale of the condo (a buyer can amortize the cost of the storage unit over the term of their mortgage) most transactions for building storage units are handled in cash.   The cash-only aftermarket can put storage units out of reach for some owners.  As you can see below there is a wide range of pricing.

Recent transactions:  (sizes are ballpark based on owner input)
*5 Fifty Five – 4′w x 7′d x 7′h = $2,800-4,000.
*Milago = $3,750

*The Shore – 4′w x 7′d x 8′h = $7,500
*360 Condos – 5′w x 7′d x 9′h = $15,000.

Public Storage
Cost: varies, ~$100+ per month

publicstorageMany downtown condo dwellers forget there is a Public Storage close by on W. 6th Street.  As of this post, these rentable storage lockers start at $122 per month, plus a $75 move in fee, for a 5′w x 10′d.

I try to avoid renting whenever possible – it’s a sunk cost, and you need to drive to get there.  However, when you’re downsizing and about to start moving, you just want an easy place to put stuff.  This is where Public Storage is really helpful.  Later you can transition into more permanent storage options once settled into your new digs.

USU “Urban Storage Unit”
Cost: fixed, $2000

USU

The USU is sturdy box that sits in front/above your parking space.  It maximizes space you are underutilizing.  Amber and I have two of these and they are perfect for golf clubs, ski/snowboard equipment, holiday stuff, tools, and generally bulky items we want convenient access to from our door.

We needed to persuade our HOA board to let us install the USU, but now more buildings and HOAs are approving them based on the convenience and value these bring to their residents.  You can see USUs in use at the Four Seasons, Spring Condos, W Hotel Residences, and the Shore Condos.

Hopefully, this will help those of you longing for some extra space. If you’ve seen more creative storage solutions, please make sure to share in the comments!

-Jude

[UPDATED:  Though we've not used SpareFoot, we wanted to give them shoutout.  SpareFoot is an online self-storage marketplace that allows storage seekers to search by price and area.  So, you can price shop storage facilities across Austin.  They are based in downtown Austin, too!]





Girls Night Out – Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Girls Night Out – Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Me and some of my lady friends enjoying culture at The Contemporary.

Note: This evening’s itinerary also works for date night!

I like to do a group outing with girlfriends once every week or two, but sometimes we get into a rut – where we are doing the same things, going to the same places, etc.  So, for 2014, I’ve made a commitment to try and mix things up a little (nothing too crazy) and try to do something a little different each time we get together.  Last night was our first night since the holiday madness, and me and gals decided to hit up the northern edge of Congress near the Capitol – frankly, a seeming no man’s land in the evenings.

Me and some of my lady friends enjoying culture at The Contemporary.

Me and some of my lady friends at the beginning of girls night.  At The Contemporary.

Stop 1 – 6pm: The Contemporary – The Jones Center at 7th and Congress

downtown-austin-contemporary-3

An artistic shot of the staircase at The Contemporary – The Jones Center. Photo by Lindsey Strobel.

For a steal at $5, you can get in to The Contemporary – Jones Center, and view the exhibitions on site (apparently, your receipt gets you [Read more...]





Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can Buy Downtown

Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can Buy Downtown

Neo Jumper

Christmas is in four days, y’all.  If you want to live dangerously – you can try doing your last minute shopping online and cross your fingers that it gets shipped to you in time OR you can go to the mall and get something completely lackluster, but why risk it?

You can pick up unique gifts right here in downtown without biting your nails about when it will arrive.  One of the many benefits of shopping local.

But Amber, you say, I don’t have the time to visit a lot of unfamiliar stores, look through all their wares, and make a decision.  Never you fear – Amber is here! I’ve done a little of the heavy lifting for you, and below provided you a curated list of some cool shops and some cool stuff they’ve got so you can run in, get a special gift, and run out.

REMEMBER – Check the websites for the store hours!  If you are unsure about something, probably also a good idea to call ahead!

My list, of course, is not exhaustive – if you know of a cool downtown / downtown-adjacent shop – feel free to tell us in the comments below!

[Read more...]





Waller Park Place Submits Site Plan for 3 Towers

Waller Park Place Submits Site Plan for 3 Towers

wallerparkplacerendering1

At  ~1,400,000 square feet Waller Park Place, a three tower mixed-use plan is the largest private development ever proposed in downtown Austin (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong).  It’s the vision of the Sutton Company, who formally filed their site plan approval application with the City of Austin last week.

Back in September, Downtown Austin Blog first revealed the concept  for the 3 acre tract stretching from Cesar Chavez to Davis Street, hugging Waller Creek.  Then it was being called Waller Center and seemed really to be just a conceptual vision.

wallerparkplacesiteplan1

Birds eye view shows planned orientation of three towers along Waller Creek

Below is what we know (note these numbers have gone up since Waller Center was announced in September and could still change)

  • Tower A – Office, 25+ stories, on the corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez
  • Tower B – Apartments, 50+ stories, internal on the site
  • Tower C – Hotel/Condo, 40+ stories, at Red River & Davis
  • Target FAR is 10:1
  • The architect is the IBI Group
  • No phasing is contemplated – all three towers built simultaneously
  • The site is part of the Waller Creek TIF district

With Block 1 (tbd) anticipated, and Trinity Tower (tbd) being conceptualized, Waller Park Place would be the last opportunity in downtown Austin for waterfront development with protected lake views.

WallerParkPlaceCrudeMassing5

Our own crude drawings showing how the new towers could fit into the skyline

Above and below are a couple of crude massing-drawings I made for each tower to help view the relative dimensions and heights of the three towers, and to help us see how these buildings will fit into the skyline.

WallerParkPlaceCrudeMassing3

Looking south – our own crude drawings showing how the new towers could fit into the skyline





List of Google Fiber Proposed “Community Connection” Sites Released

List of Google Fiber Proposed “Community Connection” Sites Released

Google Fiber logo

In an update to the story below… Austin City Council elected to postpone adoption of the List of 100 Community Connection Sites until its Dec. 12th meeting saying they wanted to review and tweak the list some more with Google.  KUT has more on Council activity here.

Also floating around out there in the Fibersphere is this post from Google Fiber Chief, Mark Strama, that discusses how the construction process is being envisioned as it makes its way around the city starting sometime mid 2014.

ORIGINAL STORY – Here is a link to the PDFs of the LIST & Council RESOLUTION of Proposed Google Fiber Community Connection Sites coming before City Council tomorrow, November 21st.

And here are those sites neatly MAPPED courtesy of KUT.

After spending only about five minutes reviewing the list, some inexplicable glaring omissions would include:

  • University of Texas – the 40 acres and other facilities like the Pickle research campus, ATI, IC2, etc.
  • Austin Community College – all of their campuses and, in particular, the new Highland Center that will be a major central city magnet for the tech and creative industries over the next 5+ years.
  • Austin Studios – film and production facilities on East 51st St
  • Hospitals in our emerging health care services growth cluster
  • …and no doubt much more!

How is this possible? These are all mega bandwidth users and fit the criteria for inclusion in the Community Connectedness program of public service locations intended for free Fiber service.  St. Edward’s, Huston-Tillotson, Concordia are all on there – appropriately – but not UT or ACC.  Seriously?





Austin Bike Share Coming in December – 11 Downtown Area Hubs

Austin Bike Share Coming in December – 11 Downtown Area Hubs

Bike share map

It has been a long time coming, but the the first 11 bike share locations in Austin, opening next month, were announced last week.

As expected the bike locations are all located in and around downtown, with nothing north of 11th St.

B-Cycle, the bike provider, has launched an official website — austin.bcycle.com —  touting the official launch as Dec. 21. The website also has an interactive Google-hybrid map of the bike share locations.

I have no bone to pick with any of the install choices, but do lament that they will not have kiosks planned in the initial phase at parking-challenged Barton Springs Pool and the Rainey Street District. (*cough* Put one at the MACC. *cough*).

The website says that the entire 40 station system, which is still in the planning stage, will be completely online and available for bike check out by March 1, 2014.   In the near term, buildings with the closest access to the bike kiosks are the Spring CondosW Hotel Residences5 Fifty Five, and the Plaza Lofts.

[Read more...]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 8/28/14 12:44 AM PDT. 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.