701 and 711 W 7th Street in downtown Austin were seeking an upzoning to CBD. 701 W 7th is zoned “GR – general retail” and 711 W 7th is zoned “GO – general office”. Both zoning definitions cap building height at 60 feet. [Read more…] about Upzoning Sought And Supported On W 7th Street
austin towers and high rises
In April, I didn’t publish a transaction summary covering March’s downtown deals.
I had assembled all the info, drafted the post, and it was ready to publish. Some of you noticed that I never got around to posting it, and I’m sorry for not getting it out there (here’s to you John K.).
Jude, why u no post March data?
First and fortunately, I was at the tipping point of having more business than I could handle. Springtime is always busy for me. Combine that with opening the RE/MAX Downtown Austin office and I got distracted, operating on little sleep.
Secondly, I couldn’t come up with a headline for March! March’s data didn’t seem to have a compelling story. March’s data seemed too predictable. That spooked me – what was I going to write about? DAB readers have built up filters to exaggerated headlines, but readers do expect a story. You should expect some insight. What’s the story?
The most significant downtown Austin condo news from January must be the first closings at the W Hotel Residences (aka Block 21 Residences). The W is the last of the luxury high rises to open, and these closings represent a significant milestone for the downtown Austin building boom. Naturally, the proud new owners are taking possession from the lower floors going up. Occupancy is permitted up to the 24th floor, currently. Prices at the W Hotel Residences are firmly placed into our “top-tier” category with starting prices at [Read more…] about W Hotel Residences Begins Closings In January As Downtown Austin Condo Sales Rise Higher
The downtown Austin loft & condo market hit many milestones this year: 1) Austonian opened 2) Four Seasons opened 3) W Hotel residences approached completion. Downtown hosted over $60MM in resale transactions during the year. Moreover, to the surprise or chagrin of some, buyers are flocking to the top-tier buildings. We close out 2010 with 38 closed transactions in the month of December – 18 resale, and 20 direct to developer.
The above chart shows downtown austin condo resale trends based on monthly data from 2010. Direct to developer transactions are not shown on the chart. The most salient trend we can glean from this data is the average sales price hovering steadily ~$300 per square foot.
Details after the jump… [Read more…] about Downtown Austin Condo Prices On The Rise in December
After months of complaints, Enzo night club is being sued by the Monarch apartments. This is not surprising, but the suit could be unfounded if Enzo has been operating in compliance with existing laws. According the article, city police and fire officials believe they have been. Behind the scenes, various advocacy groups are discussing the bigger question: are existing compatibility laws failing a mixed-use downtown?
Outside of the established entertainment districts of E 6th Street and the Warehouse District, there’s unrest brewing between downtown residents and night clubs. These two groups evolved in the same playground over the past decade. Now, both seem uncertain about the rules and who’s playing by them.
Can’t we all just get along?
One of my favorite books is Freakonomics – a book that challenges our core economic motivations. I’m a perfect example of irrationality. I am a downtown property owner. I believe that scarcity creates value. Using purely economic instinct, I should support the anti-height and anti-density sentiment we’re used to seeing from ANC, since the expected result would be less real estate for my properties to compete with. However, I have qualitative interests that go beyond simple economics. So, I do support height and density initiatives designed to create more housing in downtown.
In similar fashion, a club owner might want to limit the creation of new bars in downtown Austin in order to preserve their existing fiefdoms. Why desire more competition, right? I know many bar owners, but I’ve never once heard them say “there’s too many bars”. It makes sense, as they don’t want to be blocked from opening future concepts/locations.
There’s also the argument for economies of agglomeration, which helps to explain why destination entertainment districts thrive.
Responding to exogenous forces
Remember when the City of Austin banned smoking inside bars? If you do, you might recall the uproar from bar owners suggesting that would kill their business. In the long run, bars adapted. The response was to take business outdoors to rooftop decks and open air lounges. This phenomenon paralleled the residential boom in downtown, and created new Outdoor Music Venue challenges for lawmakers (to be discussed in another article). Look around. Now, there are more bars than ever in downtown Austin.
Another reason for the surge of bar development: parking. CBD bars don’t need onsite or adjacent parking. By requirement of the law and/or lender, onsite parking isn’t as important to a bar’s success than it is for retail and restaurant uses. So, it’s no surprise we’re see more bars. They’re simply easier to build, finish out, and operate. CBD zoning enables this.
According to the Texas Bar Nightclub Alliance (TBNA) there are more alcohol retailers in downtown Austin’s 78701 zipcode than any other zip code in the United States!
I went to the TABC and pulled all of the permits in 78701, and found approximately 290 permits.
Big whoop, Jude. What’s your point?
At what point are there so many night clubs that they collectively begin to erode the quality-of-life for residents and visitors of downtown? I think the answer has to do with compatibility, more than raw numbers.
Have you seen the vision for Congress Ave? It’s mixed-use. These pics from the holiday stroll should help you visualize it. Downtown Austin is more than just bar-centric nightlife. Night clubs outside of the established entertainment districts (E 6th & Warehouse) need to play nice with their neighbors. And residents need to support the ones that do!
I support the Downtown Austin Plan’s recommendation for conditional use permits for new downtown Austin night clubs outside the entertainment districts. It’s a softball pitch for stakeholders to foul out the bad players.
Jude, stop being lame.
Meh, get off my proverbial lawn. Few new night clubs add to our city’s brand and goodwill. IMO, we’re at the tipping point of problematic “bar creep” outside of the entertainment districts and into areas envisioned for more mixed-use.
Maybe I’m growing up, and through the course of business I see more families in downtown Austin than ever before. I see, in aggregate, the billions of dollars homeowners have invested in their downtown residences.
Unlike E. 6th Street (aka. “dirty 6th”), W. 6th Street was not a major destination until there were 1,500+ high rise doors and $500,000,000 in residential multi-family/condo property tax base surrounded it. Rainey Street wasn’t a destination until 1,000+ high rise doors and $250,000,000 in residential multi-family/condo property tax base surrounded it.
Entertainment “districts” are a piece of the Downtown Austin CBD pie. Not the whole pie.