46 posts categorized "Downtown/Central Austin"

Monday, October 15, 2007

University of Texas may develop acreage in Central Austin

I was listening to KLBJ radio Friday when a news story broke about 345 acres of land along Lake Austin Boulevard in Austin. It is currently occupied by student housing, a golf course, youth athletic fields, and the (Lower Colorado River Authority) LCRA. The task force says the school needs to find a way to produce more revenue from the property for the good of the university.

Image_5949431 WHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT DEVELOPING THE LAND?
Most Austinites love the University of Texas. The academic and athletic programs are superstars in their own rights. The problem they see with UT is that it has a tendency to buy and hold a LOT of land. When the university later decides to develop land, it comes as a surprise because it's such a large tract and locals are accustomed to the current use.

For instance, the Lyons Municipal Golf Course's lease is up in the year 2019. Lyons and the beloved park around it are both on the chopping block. Click the photo (by Robert Caldaza at the Austin Statesman) to enlarge.

THE QUANDARY
Austin is supposed to have a million more residents in the next 10 years, so what's a city to do besides build taller buildings and make use of undeveloped land?

On the other hand, some good questions have been raised about this particular acreage. Can it hold up to traffic patterns? What about the fact that this area is part of the culture of Austin?

Read more and view the key recommendations: Panel recommends development of UT's Brackenridge tract.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Today Final Deadline for Barton Place Condo Reservations

I just received an alert that today is the final day to reserve one of the unique units at Barton Place Condos for their first phase. Their "presentation" center is having grand opening Saturday, September 22, 2007.

Bartonplace_2Food will be served at the event, which takes place from 3-5pm at Uncle Billy's Brew & Q in South Central Austin at 1608 Barton Springs Road. We'd previous discussed some of the history around Barton Place Condos and this popular area of town. Should you decide to visit them at some point,also visit the new Town Lake Park.

PSSST...

On a side note, Uncle Billy's is relatively new and seems to be doing well. I'm no food critic, but thought the bar-b-que was tasty. I didn't enjoy the sauce, which had too much vinegar for my taste...

Link: Barton Place Austin :: Live Austin. Read more about Barton Place Condos as well as Town Lake Park.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's In the Works for Downtown Austin?

Downtown Austin development is booming and we've been diligently following many of the projects. As mentioned last week, the team is updating the blog and providing more visual content.

Enjoy our Slideshare presentation on current and upcoming development projects in Downtown Austin for 2007. Download the associated pdfs.

We are going to add audio to the video soon.

Read more about what's happening in Downtown Austin at City of Austin - Downtown Redevelopment.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Soco Suites in Austin Provide Affordable Office Space

WfrenderresourceI received an email from the Austin Real Estate Networking club, so wanted to post here.

Angelique Naylor is representing the landlord on a renovated office complex on South Congress Avenue in Austin. Investors may still be welcome to purchase or it could be a good location for a small office space.

According to the description, "Both interior and exterior renovation to completely change the look of the building coming soon. Building sign to compliment new building style coming soon - this will be complete with tenant name slots. Triple net leases and gross leases plus utilites available depending on size of office suite selected."

Link: Soco Suites for Lease.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Austin Residents Await Opening of Town Lake Park

Ok, so a park opens in Austin. You may wonder why you'd care.

Well, Town Lake Park has been 20-years in the making in Austin and is actually a big deal locally. The $7.5M park is located in a great area of town near the Long Center and Palmer Events Center. The reason for excitement of Town Lake Park is that the new, expensive park will host a variety of features that captures the essence of Austin.

Townlake One blogger noted that Town Lake Park does not quite live up to the original vision presented almost 9 years ago. The July 2006, the Austin Chronicle detailed the cutbacks. Still it has been transformed into a wonderful space.

If you Google "Town Lake Park",  you'd bring up many stories on what it is and what the features are.

READ MORE ONLINE

Austinist blog, which is always on top of the latest news...

Austin Statesman: Soon-to-be-renamed Town Lake Park opens Aug. 29.

City of Austin Town Lake Masterplan and Kvue News Station, which has great photos of the project

Photo courtesy KVUE news station.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Downtown Austin Set to Expand

I received this email alert at Keller Williams, so thought it was a great idea to share it with the audience here.

Closerdowntownjpg There are approximately 5,900 people currently living downtown. In the next three years that number is projected to be close to 10,000. Mayor Will Wynn has set a goal of 25,000 downtown residents in the next 10 years.
UPCOMING DOWNTOWN PROJECTS
  • 21-acre Town Lake Park and the Long Center for the Performing Arts, between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road.
  • The Seaholm Project, a private-public initiative to redevelop the old Seaholm Power Plant on the north shore of Town Lake - construction should begin in early 2008
  • Block 21, just north of City Hall, will house new Austin City Limits studios, a W Hotel, the Austin Children's Museum Dell Discovery Center, condos and a plaza.
  • The Waller Creek Project, beginning with a tunnel under Waller Creek to divert floodwaters to Town Lake, should begin construction in September.  Long-term plans include natural trails dotted with sidewalk cafes, ultimately connecting Town Lake to the UT campus.
  • A new commuter rail connecting Leander with downtown is slated to open late 2008.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mueller Austin Task Force to Review Neighborhood Guidelines

The Mueller Austin home owners for the first phase will be moving in this winter. Both new and potential residents have expressed concerns with their home owner association guidelines. It's not that the guidelines aren't fair. They're just "boring" and seen as "standard" rules that can be found in any subdivision in Greater Austin.

MuellerMueller Austin is a new community with it's own unique feel. Residents want a little more freedom on the fence types and customization of their lawns. The neighborhood already has great features:

  • It's green. Green built homes will have at least a 3-star rating by Austin's Green Building Program. Even the new Seton Children's Hospital and other commercial buildings on the site are green built.
  • It's mixed-use. Residents will have access to a variety of product types, including national and local retail shops as well as live-work lofts in the town center.
  • It's pedestrian and bike friendly. There are miles of hike-and-bike trails and the community is planned to accommodate walking or riding bikes to shopping areas and amenities.

Trinitya The hope is that the final recommendations reflect the unique culture of East Central Austin instead of relegating the new owners to restrictions that aren't representative of their wants or needs.The task force will meet 4-5 times during the fourth quarter this year to finalize the guidelines before the covenants are sent for implementation.

Stay tuned...

Read more about Mueller Austin in previous articles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Downtown Austin's "Bling": The 5 Fifty Five Condos

5fiftyfive Last week, we reported on the Four Seasons Residences, highly popular lofts in Downtown Austin that nearly sold out within the first weeks of availability. The 5 Fifty Five luxury condos are also major players in the downtown residential market.

I received an alert that are in the final phases of taking reservations. Of course, the 5 Fifty Five will sport "breathtaking" views, concierge and so forth. I'll let you read more about them on their website.

I am attracted to the 5 Fifty Five is because they sit atop Fin and Porter, one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. Fin and Porter is part of the Hilton Restaurant Group and provides a great dining experience when you're in Austin or even if you live here. 

The 5 Fifty Five is a promising development due to it's proximity to Town Lake, The Capitol and 6th Street.

Read more about: The 5 Fifty Five high rise condominiums in downtown Austin, Texas.

Search All Greater Austin Condos.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Four Seasons Luxury Residences Nearly Sold in Six Weeks!

Fourseasons I received an email alert today from the marketing team for the Four Seasons Private Residences. 80% of the project has already been reserved after only six week of sales. 

The quick sale time is a great indication that luxury downtown condos are still desirable to buyers.

LATEST NEWS- FOUR SEASONS RESIDENCES

  • Floors 6-13 are still available and have just been released.
  • Size ranges from 806 to 1815  square feet with prices starting in the $400s.
  • Amenities include a roof-top pool and terrace, concierge service and a great location on Town Lake.

The units are expected to sell out within the next month or so. Read more about the amenities: Four Seasons Private Residences - Austin

Contact your real estate agent or our team for floorplans or a walkthrough.

Search all condos and homes in Greater Austin!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Simmons Vedder Begans Construction on 'Mosaic" Apartments at Mueller Austin

Mosaic_2 I received a press release yesterday regarding the Mosaic Apartments, which will begin construction at the Mueller Austin redevelopment in East Central Austin. Simmons Vedder will handle the high-end multifamily project, which is slated for completion late Fall 2008. (Pictured is the rendering I received).

The Mosaic seems like a nice apartment project, but it's not very exciting news. I searched Google News for the story and only found a few reports. Although interest is high in the Mueller Austin project, most people can't buy there because of the long waiting list.  There are already a few hundred home buyers in line for the second phase of the project, which will begin soon.

I guess this is one of the few instances where you may decide to rent instead of buy, but at least it's not by your preferred choice. 

Read more about Mueller Austin as well as my role in the project.

Link: Apartments debut at Mueller - Austin Business Journal

Thursday, July 05, 2007

'Unforeseen' Movie Tracks Controversial Development in Austin

Barton_springs_pool PBS ran a story on 'The Unforeseen", a documentary by Laura Dunn about an embattled development near Barton Creek in Austin, Texas. The documentary is a film that tries to walk the line of remaining truthful and honest while opening a unique discussion regarding Austin real estate development.

Laura thought it was important to avoid painting one side as the "hero" versus the "villain". Although George W. Bush supported the developer of Barton Springs, she wanted to stay bipartisan in per depiction of the involved parties.

I wanted to take note of The Unforeseen because it seems wonderfully done and can help both current and future residents or developers understand our city and culture. Laura Dunn understood that Austin is a place where developers see the city as a place to be build lucrative projects while residents view Barton Springs and Austin as unique oasis' in an urban setting where friends, families and neighbors can grow together.

See the City of Austin website on Barton Springs.

Watch the movie now: The Unforeseen and read more about Austin's accolades.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Zachary Scott Theatre Changes Alarm Austin Citizens

Zacharyscott As you may be aware, the recent Austin Quality of Life Bonds in 2006 helped secure $12.5M to double the size of the Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin to 400 seats. The Zachary Scott Theatre is currently the playground of the Austin Film Society and other cultural arts groups.

According to a citizen at the recent Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Zachary Scott Theatre developers were given the right to add 100 more seats to the theatre by legislative approval. While this is normally not a problem, the citizen raised valid concerns.

ISSUES WITH RECENT ZACHARY SCOTT THEATRE CHANGES

  • Citizens were not made aware of the request to add 100 more seats and did not get to vote on it. We funded the project at 400 seats, so who is paying for the increased cost?
  • According to the speaker at the meeting, the plan calls for 100 additional seats, but does not include room for additional parking. This is an issue because it could mean developers will take additional parkland to provide the parking spaces.
  • A new lease amendment proposal would allow a 24-hour restaurant. The Parks and Recreation board initially thought the amendment allowed developers a chance to evaluate having the restaurant, but it was actually an APPROVAL to move forward. After the citizen pointed this out, the board did not take further action until they can look into the matter.

Council To stay on top of changes a the city level, I suggest attending city commission meetings, which are usually recorded and televised later on Channel 6 webcasts.

I've already asked for a transcript of the meeting and will follow up for more details on the proposed restaurant lease amendment.

Link: City of Austin - Park and Recreation Board Agenda.

Read more about the Proposition 4 Bonds.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Concordia Unversity to Get $500M Mixed-Use Makeover

It's strange to not hear much about the Concordia University redevelopment. The central Austin university is moving to its new 250-acre campus in northwest Austin. In the meantime, the dogfight for the old campus is over. East Avenue Investment Group was victorious in their bid to create a mixed-use development out of the area.

In 2008, about $2.75M of retail, office, condos and class-A living will emerge. Developers are currently working on infrastracture

Read more: Developer Readies $500M Mixed-Use Project.

Concordia buyers get financing to redevelop.

Monday, April 23, 2007

East Austin Is Like An Awkward Teenager

I was just thinking this morning about the rapid and seemingly sudden changes that are happening in East and Central Austin. If I had to describe the transformation, I'd liken it to that of an awkward teenager. This is not meant to be derogatory. If you think about it, happens to teenagers?

  • They experience growing pains as things change.
  • They're self-conscious and can be introspective. They may ask, "Who am I and what are my values?"
  • They can be testy if you try to tell them what to do.

Anytime there's sudden and unexpected growth, it can be scary to the people who are going through it. Like an adolescent, our little East Austin is growing up. In less than four years, the area home prices have doubled in value. A new breed of buyer is moving in. Affordability is fleeting. The wonderful people who grew up there are being pushed out due to increased property taxes.

East Austin and various parts of Central Austin are seeing their skylines grow taller while new subdivisions and condo projects sprout up all around them. We realize that, as the Austin and Texas population boom moves forward, these transformations are inevitable. Now, both new and existing residents and businesses strugggle to find ways to shape their communities into economical viable, diverse and happy places to live.

Read about the $1.5 Billion Dollar Villa Muse Development.

My state is better than your state.

Tell us! How is your area growing and changing? What do you think of this observation?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Festival Brings Bayou Music, Foods to Austin

Your Local Weekend Reminder:

A friend sent a link to the Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival, which is March 31st in Downtown Austin. I love food festivals, but never have time to travel.

Although Texans have our share of food celebrations, the #1 event I'd like to attend is the annual Fiery Foods Festival, which is usually held in New Mexico. More than 10,000 crazy people try the hottest sauces and foods on earth. We think I can take out most of the other attendees since my tolerance for hot foods has been called "not normal". 

Other food-related events that are coming up soon:

If you want to see some crazy art, listen to the music, and try the goodies at this upcoming crawfish festival, go to Roadway Productions | Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival. Send a link to your favorite food festival and we'll post here!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Texas Buyer's Market Apocalypse is Upon Us

I've been saying it since last year. Texas is hot, hot, hot despite a downward trend in other states. This is great news for sellers, but buyers are getting tired of the competition. Multiple offers, increased prices, and higher property taxes are all signs of an appreciating and competitive market.

Property owners in major Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are seeing the signs that the buyer market apocalypse is upon us. You know you're in a HOT seller's market when...

  • Inventory shrinks. Homes start selling faster and the average days on market decreases.
  • Multiple offer mayhem ensues. You get the feeling that you're competing to buy a house due to other offers. Brawling or begging may take place.
  • Real estate ads and advertising decrease since homes sell so quickly.
  • FBSO signs are more plentiful as unrepresented sellers strike out on their own.
  • Then...the final sign that you're in a seller's market is when condominium conversions increase at a feverish pace. 

Continue reading "Texas Buyer's Market Apocalypse is Upon Us" »

Monday, March 05, 2007

Central Austin 'McMansion" Ordinance Under Fire from Builders

The Texas Association of Builders is backing several bills filed by Rep. Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin). One of them could nullify the controversial Austin "McMansion" ordinance, which restricts home sizes in most Central Austin neighborhoods. The Austin Business Journal recently discussed both bills and their purposes.

Here are the two sides:

Builders feel they are not getting a fair shake with the city. Some think Austin keeps making it tougher for them to build quality homes at reasonable prices. It is seen as hypocritical to pass building ordinances and restrictions without proper input from the builder and remodeling communities, but then turn around and demand affordable housing product after costs increase.

Residents don't want to unfairly increase costs, but also do not like the monstrosities that some builders and remodelers plop onto small parcels of land. Central Austin is a unique area and neighbors want design guidelines that preserve their look. Builders rarely LIVE in these areas and some are more focused on their bottom lines than providing great product.

THE INITIAL STEP

We need to get input from good, passionate people from both sides who know how to listen. This will be a long, continuous fight unless we can come together to solve some essential problems and meet the needs of everyone involved.

  • Builders need to make money and can't build affordable product if we retroactively or suddenly change building guidelines.
  • Residents want more builders who care about the their product and the impact it leaves on neighborhoods.

READ MORE ON THE MCMANSION BILLS

HB 1732: Relating to the authority of municipalities to adopt zoning regulations affecting the appearance of buildings or open spaces. http://tinyurl.com/2ejpcx

HB 1736: Relating to the authority of municipalities to adopt zoning regulations for impervious cover and floor to area ratio on lots. http://tinyurl.com/yv7w2v

AUSTIN BUSINESS JOURNAL article.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Austin Closer to Transforming Seaholm Powerplant to Mixed-Use Development

The Austin Statesman reported earlier an update on the Seaholm project. Although all of the attention has been focused on the Robert Mueller Redevelopment in East Austin, the Seaholm Power Plant Redevelopment should not be overshadowed.

The city entered into a joint venture with Seaholm Power, LLC. Per the article, developers are expected to roll out today their vision for a mixed-use project that would transform the former Seaholm Power Plant into shops, offices, a hotel and condominiums by 2009.

The Austin City Council will get its first look at a new rendering of the project, which features a modern design while retaining the distinctive Art Deco building and its five signature smokestacks.
The decommissioned 1940s plant sits on about 8 acres along West Cesar Chavez Street overlooking Town Lake. An adjacent 22-story residential/hotel tower and two-story office building also would have a modern design but with an Art Deco flavor. 

On other words, the project is really, really cool. It mirrors where Austin real estate has been going for some time now. Read more on the Statesman site: Austin nearer to transforming Seaholm.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

City of Austin Selling Downtown Land for Development

For those of you who would like your own slice of downtown...

Approximately 11,367 square feet of land is for sale by the City of Austin. The land is located at 301 North Lamar, which is the northeast corner of 3rd Street and Lamar Boulevard In City of Austin, Travis County, Texas.

The city is accepted RFPs right now. Additional information regarding the property may be obtained from the City's Website found at www.cityofaustin.org/realestate.

City of Austin
One Texas Center, Ste. 1350
505 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704
[email protected]

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Austin Business Journal Reports New Town Lake Condos

According to the Austin Business Journal - 5:09 PM CST Thursday, February 15, 2007...

The Austin City Council on Thursday gave final approval to a project that will bring two new condominium towers to the south shore of Town Lake. Grand Prairie-based Fairfield Residential LLC plans to build 200-foot tall towers on a 10-acre site adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Austin. The company asked the city to relax the zoning to allow for more impervious cover at the site.

The council voted unanimously to give the project preliminary approval in early January and did so again Thursday. The number of units Fairfield has planned for the project is uncertain at this point. Fairfield purchased the Hyatt hotel and the adjacent property in 2005. In December, the company put the 448-room hotel up for sale, retaining the land for the condo project.

You may be wondering if there are too many condos coming in Central/SouthCentral Austin. Only time will tell, but with our expected growth and the huge number of boomers and relocation buyers, demand is expected to increase.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Austin City Design Commission Special Meeting Called for Monday Feb. 12th

The real estate Design Commission for the City of Austin has called a special meeting for Monday, February 12th, 2007. Room 2017, City Hall. 5:45. The purpose of the commission is to oversee residential and commercial design guidelines for the city. From the city site, they assist in developing public policy and to promote excellence in the design and development of the urban environment.

You can see the full agenda online, but here are some highlights.

Liaison Staff Project Updates:

  • Urban Design Criteria Manual
  • Commercial Design Standards
  • Station Area Planning
  • Downtown Plan
  • Cesar Chavez Conversion
  • Brazos & Colorado Reconstruction
  • Residential Regulations Ordinance: Discussion and Possible Action.

Contact Chhabi Mishra, Neighborhood Planning and Zoning, (512) 974-2629 for more info.  Typical meetings are Fourth Monday of the month, 5:45 p.m., City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street, Room 1101.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New and Improved Condos Coming Fall 2007 Near the University of Texas Austin

I went to a meeting today regarding upcoming condos and lofts near the University of Texas in West Campus. For out-of-town readers, this area is west...of the University of Texas campus, within walking distance to the school. The popular area had previously not seen many new residential construction due to zoning limitations.  Then came along With the UNO, the University Neighborhood Overlay. Developers who meet these option guidelines can apply to build taller, more dense properties. Examples include the TexanTower.

The panelists predicted that West Campus residential real estate will grow towards downtown Austin. Although Downtown Austin prices are low cost ($300-500 per square foot) compared to other cities of our size, it's still not as cost effective for professionals or students in Central Austin. Campus condos that are within walking distance to the University of Texas range in prices around the $225-275 per sqft.

Residential real estate projects have skyrocketed now that the City of Austin realizes that our housing stock would not keep up with growth if we didn't start "building up".  If you live in Austin, you've noticed the large number of cranes in Central Austin. One indicator of the number of high rise projects that are coming up for central Austin: there was recently a shortage of cranes due to the current demand. When we start running out of cranes, you can start counting the dollars developers are going to make.

So back to West Campus. This area is within walking distance of the University of Texas and is a hot location due to the number of quality renters as well as steady appreciation. Our team developed a list of projects that are open for reservations in West Campus, so contact us for a quick email or call. We're still working on the data. So far, the demographics of buyers are parents, graduate students, university professionals, and medical staff. Most projects are being sold now but will be completed Fall 2007.

Help yourself to the exciting neighborhood plans online at the City of Austin website and check back soon for further updates.

Monday, February 05, 2007

New Luxury Condos Coming to Austin and Round Rock, TX

For those of you who missed these stories in the Texas A&M Recon...

ROUND ROCK (Austin Business Journal) – A nearly completed $30 million luxury townhome project could mean the beginning of new housing options for the city, which has primarily consisted of single-family homes. The 160-unit Knotting Hill Town Homes development is being built on 16 acres fronting A.W. Grimes Boulevard between Gattis School Road and Louis Henna Boulevard.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom units range from 913 to 1,523 square feet. They are priced between $128,000 and $202,000. Waco-based Brown Holdings Inc. partnered with Austin-based Stadler Custom Homes on the development, with Vance Powell serving as project manager.

From the Austin American-Statesman
– A planned $200 million luxury condominium tower will raise the bar for height in the downtown area. The 55-story, 195-unit Austonian will tower 22 stories above the Frost Bank Tower, currently downtown’s tallest building.

The design, by Houston-based Ziegler Cooper Architects, has not been finalized, but construction on the 500,000-square-foot tower at 200 Congress Ave. is slated to begin late this year. Developer Second Congress Ltd. expects the tower to be completed in 2009.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Red River Lofts Coming to Downtown Austin

Central Austin will see another multifamily condo project soon. I haven't been able to find much information on the Red River Lofts, but my sources show that  Greystar Management applied for the permit in Q3 of 2006. The address cited was at 901 Red River Street. The current project has over 48,000 square feet allocated.  There will be a parking garage and clubhouse.

MORE DOWNTOWN AUSTIN PERMITS

  • 1305 E. 6th Street. The 1.5M project is almost 19k square feet. Notes showed that the use was changed from warehouse to multifamily.
  • 217 South Lamar. Permits were continuing for the second floors of this condo project by CLB Partners.
  • 2200 Pearl Street. Residential apartments being completed by CWC Capital Partners, LLC.
  • 900 South Lamar Blvd. Condo conversion project by Ed Davidson & Harold Mil. About 19k square feet.
  • 300 Crockett Street. Condo conversion project by Westbank Partners.
  • 1914 Garden Street. Two new single family homes with covered porches and wooden decks. Not sure if these have been sold or will be sold once they are completed, but an LLC is building them.

We'll have updates as we learn more about the projects and sales price ranges.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Still no answers for 63 dead birds near Downtown Austin

The City of Austin had a scare last week and the mystery still hasn't been solved. Congress Avenue, the street that leads to the state Capitol in Downtown Austin has been sealed off because of an unknown cause of death for several dozen pigeons and other birds.

According to the story on KXAN's website, the fire department was called out and the birds are being collected to determine the cause of death, which is currently not apparent. So far, it does not seem like a gas or chlorine leak. We all hope it is not a terrorist attack, but just in case, Downtown Austin workers were told to stay at home until the issue is cleared up.

According to an article by the Dallas Morning News, Authorities said early necropsies indicated that bird flu is not the culprit and that West Nile virus is highly unlikely, because the disease is seasonal. Air tests were negative for natural gas and other chemicals, and the birds' feathers showed no signs of pesticides. Officials all but ruled out environmental factors; the city had no inclement weather.

Officials said they believe the birds were probably poisoned or suffered from a bacterial infection. A determination will take weeks.

Residents were initially afraid that this was a possible terrorist attack. Austin has recently been on many lists for the top best places to live, so this could have affected public perception of safety. For now, we'll continue to wait on a final answer.

Link: Austin looks for answers after 63 dead birds close downtown.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Live/Work Lofts and Condo Projects Cater to Austin's "Creative Class"

Austin has had a surge of new developments that seek to accommodate live/work lifestyles. These include Waterstreet Lofts, at Comal and East Cesar Chavez streets; 1305 Lofts, on East Sixth Street; Spaces 2525 and The Magnolia, both on South Lamar Boulevard; Sixth and Brushy at Sixth and Brushy streets; Satsuma53, at East 53rd Street and North Loop Boulevard; and Willow Branch Lofts on Poquito Street.         

The redeveloped Robert Mueller Municipal Airport site will include substantial live/work housing, such as flats above storefronts, and the Domain shopping center being built near the Arboretum will include apartments.

Although the live/work concept dates back centuries, the modern interpretation originated in San Francisco's South of Market area in the late 1990s, when technology began to create a mobile work force, Warshaw says. The "true" live/work space is a loft with a studio/office on the ground floor and a living space on top connected by an open staircase.But the high cost of developing and affording such large lofts has tempered demand. "I think people would love (live/work spaces) but it's a question of cost," Warshaw says. In Austin, "selling a half-million dollar live/work space hasn't really been plausible yet."

Recent projects target buyers by creating boutique urban infill developments with lofts anchored by commercial space at street level.


 

Monday, November 20, 2006

Condos expected to Hook UT Alumni

New condos near University of Texas are aimed to grab the attention of almuni and fans. The developer has done similar projects in other college towns.

The Texas Gameday Center, at Dean Keeton and Red River streets, will include 51 units in a converted apartment building, with another 136 units in a new building nearby. The developer, Atlanta-based Gameday Centers Southeastern LLC, is in negotiations for the site of the new building.

...Work is expected to start next spring on the new building, which could be ready in fall 2008.
The new building will have studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites ranging from 350 square feet to 2,000 square feet. Amenities will include on-site management, private parking and a clubroom for tailgating before games. Prices will range from $160,000 to $1 million.

Since the City of Austin is already flooded with condo developments, perhaps the unique angle of this one will help it survive the glut.

Link: Condos expected to hook UT alumni.

Monday, November 13, 2006

City of Austin Rethinks Building Height Restrictions

I had a friend in town this weekend who is from Switzerland. She moved from Austin back to her hometown of Bern, Switzerland about four years ago. She was amazed at how much we've changed and seemed very happy at the "more metropolitan" look of the new mixed-use commercial developments.

I was at a meeting a month ago where Mayor Will Wynn discussed the new direction for Austin. In the past, the city wanted to limit height restrictions in central areas to inhibit development. Decades later, city leaders understand and accept that Austin will grow despite any barriers they try to put in the way of development. Austin would now like to open it's arms to developers of mixed-use commercial properties, especially in central neighborhoods.

Here is the email I received, which announced the city meeting that will take place on December 13th for Mueller Redevelopment areas:

Please participate in an informational meeting on Wednesday, December 13, 6-9 p.m., at the Region XIII Education Center, 5701 Springdale, on the Vertical Mixed Use Opt-in Opt-out process. The VMU option is part of the new City Council-approved Commercial Design Standards Ordinance. This ordinance was crafted by a citizen task force, City staff, and City consultants. A Vertical Mixed Use (VMU) overlay would allow property owners to develop non-residentially zoned property in a new way.  A use on the first floor of a building could be commercial and above, you could see a residential use, such as condominiums.

Properties along certain streets in your neighborhood, called Core Transit Corridors, have been designated as potential areas where the VMU overlay may be appropriate.  Other properties within your neighborhood may be appropriate for Vertical Mixed Use buildings as well.  The City needs your help to determine which properties within your neighborhood are appropriate for this sort of development.  All organized neighborhood groups have been asked to participate in the VMU Opt-in/ Opt-out process.

Unfortunately, I will be out of town in a commercial real estate analysis class. If you want to read the guidelines for yourself, download the updated commercial design guidelines (pdf).

Monday, October 09, 2006

East Riverside Project Biggest Redevelopment Project in Austin

As you may be aware, there's a huge redevelopment effort in South Central Austin near Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road. This is a very popular area and the development should sell quickly. This recent announcement has been covered on the news extensively. I found a good article about it on the Austin American Statesman.

A local real estate investment firm plans an 840-unit apartment and condominium complex on East Riverside Drive, the biggest project by far in the residential boom in and near downtown.

The project will replace apartment buildings at 222 and 300 East Riverside with three 18-story buildings, said Richard Suttle Jr., an attorney for the developer. Two condo buildings each would have about 243 units. An apartment building would have about 352. All buildings would include parking garages. CWS would give the city about an acre of lakefront land worth millions of dollars as part of the project, Suttle said, as well as room for a park police substation.

Again, this is just in the plans. The developer will need to garner support from the residents and final approval from the city. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Link: East Riverside project would add apartments, condos, extend hike and bike trail.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Spring condo project gets $70 million construction loan; Downtown Austin gets mini-grocery store

As you can read from the past several months of posts, the City of Austin is really making a move to transition downtown to a more residential area.

According to the Austin Statesman, "Royal Blue Grocery, downtown's first neighborhood grocery story, opened Tuesday at 247 W. Third St., near the Second Street retail and entertainment district. The 1,000-square-foot store will cater to downtown's growing resident population, stocking staples such as milk and eggs, fresh produce and prepared foods, wine and beer...The store will be open daily from 7:30 a.m. to midnight."

Whole Foods has been a popular attraction to Central Austin. Iti's located near the intersection of Lamar and 6th Street, which is west of Downtown. Since most upcoming mixed-use residences are being built near 2nd Street, it only makes sense to have more retail operations in that area.
 
Also in the works is the Spring Condos, which will be in this area as well."The International Bank of Commerce is providing a $70 million construction loan for the Spring condominiums, to be built at Third and Bowie streets downtown. Developers said they plan to start work on the 41-story, 260-unit tower in early 2007, with completion expected in the fourth quarter of 2008".

Now is definitely the time to buy central. Some locals think $250-400k for a small condo is expensive, but they need to check with other residents of large cities. Downtown living is often convenient, shiek, and profitable in the longrun. There's only so much Central Austin living to go around and these new condos will present good opportunities for investors.

Link: Spring condo project gets $70 million construction loan; Downtown Austin gets mini-grocery store..

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ritzy apartment tower planned for Rainey St.

Austin leaders want to encourage more housing downtown, setting a goal of having 25,000 people living in the city's center in the next 10 years, a fivefold increase from current levels.

From the Austin Statesman...

California firm wants to break ground in March on the 31-story Legacy @ Town Lake. More high-rise living is headed downtown, this time in a 31-story luxury apartment tower with Town Lake views slated for downtown's southeastern edge. Legacy Partners, based in Foster City, Calif., plans to build Legacy @ Town Lake at Rainey and Cummings streets.

Last year, the Austin City Council set the stage for redevelopment of the 30-acre Rainey Street neighborhood by giving it the same higher-density zoning as the rest of downtown. Many residents said they were ready to sell their homes, many of which date to the 19th century.

The tower would have 184 apartments, with units averaging about 1,100 square feet and renting for about $2,100 a month. Penthouse units would rent for about $6,500 a month.

Legacy is buying about three-fourths of an acre for its project from landowners including Perry Lorenz and Robert Knight. Legacy expects to break ground in March, and the building will be ready for the first tenants in summer 2008.

Link: Ritzy apartment tower planned for Rainey St..

Friday, September 08, 2006

Two more Congress towers proposed

Austin Statesman-Austin's downtown living trend began with a handful of smaller projects, then gathered steam with the Nokonah (Ninth and Lamar) and Austin City Lofts (West Fifth). The city estimates 1,385 apartment and condominium units - both in downtown proper and along Town Lake - are under construction or recently completed, and another 2,500 units are potentially in the pipeline. The two most ambitious projects are planned for Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

The Congress Avenue Condominiums would rise more than 40 stories at the northwest corner of Congress Avenue and Second Street. The project would be primarily residential, with first-floor retail below 250 condominiums.

The proposed Fifth and Congress, at the northeast corner of its namesake streets, would sit adjacent to the Bank of America building and become the city's tallest high-rise at 47 stories. It's a combination of 1 million square feet of retail, office and residential space. Charles Heimsath of Capitol Market Research has suggested that the absorption of downtown living units is a healthy, yet modest, 300 per year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

South Congress Lofts on the Way

The Austin Business Journal previously reported that ground has  broken on some new lofts in South Central Austin. The SoCo Lofts have been aggressive in pre-selling their project.

A parcel of land at S. Congress Ave. and Alpine Street is being cleared to make way for an urban condo project with 69 residential units and 17 commercial units. The SoCo Lofts and Shops at SoCo is a collaborative effort by Symcox Development, Greystar Development Group and Tierra Capital. Completion is scheduled for summer 2007.

The building’s design is inspired by turn-of-the-century industrial warehouse architecture. Completion is scheduled for summer 2007. The project will have an elevated and broad loading-dock street front with a mix of shops and restaurants and a shaded courtyard.

"SoCo" (South Congress) is considered one of the the trendiest shopping districts in Austin. Partially due to the "coolness" factor and it's proximity to downtown, SoCo has seen a significant increase in the commercial and multi-use developments lately. Downtown spraul is projected to continue for the next few decades. With the projected Million new residents, these types of developments are welcome.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Downtown high-rises will soar even higher

Ok, one more Downtown Austin update and I'll move to other topics. Many of the highrises are being updated to include living spaces. Apartments, condos, etc. are going to be on the rise. Investors should take notice because most are expected to have double-digit appreciation almost immediately.

(Austin Statesman) - A downtown residential project is ready to start construction - with eight more floors than the original plans envisioned.

  • MetLife and partner Hanover Co. are building the 36-story apartment tower at 101 Colorado St., next door to MetLife's 22-story office tower at 100 Congress Ave. A revised design is 36 stories, with 258 units, including three live-work units facing Cesar Chavez Street. The first residents could move in by fall 2008.

Mayor Will Wynn has said his vision for a lively downtown includes 25,000 residents by 2015 - a fivefold increase - and there is no shortage of developers ready to meet the demand.

  • Projects under construction or planned for downtown would add more than 3,000 living units, with more slated to be built south of downtown.
  • Work has started on six projects, and several more are expected to break ground in early 2007.
  • Work should start Feb. 1 on Spring, a 36-story 220-unit condominium tower at Third and Bowie streets, said Robert Barnstone, one of the project's developers.
  • Just south of downtown, Crescent Resources LLC plans to start work in early 2007 on Aquaterra, a 19-story, 173-unit condominium tower at 210 Barton Springs Road. The project will cost almost $50 million and should be finished in late 2008.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Condo Conversion Project Launches in Central Austin

I'd thought condo conversions had subsided because of the time it takes to make the developments, but it appears we have one in the works in Central Austin. AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal):

Local developer Marshall Durrett, president of Grandview Street Partners Ltd., plans to turn an aging multifamily development in Central Austin into a 16-unit, $10 million condominium building at the intersection of 32nd and Grandview Streets between Seton Medical Center, downtown, the University of Texas and the Tarrytown neighborhood.

Grandview Street Condominiums will be a single building with ten, two-story condos on the ground level topped by six penthouse units. The condos will be finished-out to luxury specifications with prices ranging from the mid-$500,000s to mid-$800,000s for floor plans between 2,000 square feet and 3,000 square feet. The 1930s duplexes and fourplexes currently on the nearly one-acre site will be demolished. Construction is slated to begin in January.

Condo and office conversions can be a good way to get the maximum profit out of an aging property. Residential living spaces in the price ranges of $250-500k would sell very quickly in Central Austin. Investors looking into these opportunities should make sure they do enough research to understand the time they need to dedicate to the project and value of the property after the conversion.

Friday, August 25, 2006

'Triangle' in Austin Grabs unique tenants

The Texas A&M Research Center reported on the Triangle, which is north of the University of Texas Campus.

(North Central Austin) - Cencor Urban, the Austin-based mixed-use development arm of Cencor Realty Services of Dallas, broke ground August 2 on the most ambitious retail phase of The Triangle, which will bring an extra 90,000 square feet of space to the project off 45th Street.

Tenants that have signed on include: Galaxy Café, Flipnotics, Dragon Gate by Phoenix, Flying Saucer, Tino's Greek Café. Almost half of the project's total retail space is leased or in negotiation. The new shops are slated to open by fall 2007. Bordered by Guadalupe Street, Lamar Boulevard and 45th Street, The Triangle will include a total of 120,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 750 apartments once complete. Cencor's partner on the project, Simmons Vedder & Co., is developing the apartment component.

Although The Triangle was at first a shock because they replaced a nice park-like setting on this corner, it is a cool development because it brought luxury apartments and retail to a popular area of town. As mixed-use developments gain popularity in Central Austin, it will be interesting to see how long these types of properties appreciate. All guesses point to steady appreciation for at least the next 5 years.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Emergence of 'condotels' in Central Texas increases growth

Bizjournals.com had a good article on how Downtown Austin is changing.

Downtown Austin is becoming a haven for developers looking to cash in on the viability of offering residential properties constructed inside major hotel chains. The concept is known as the "condotel."

Austin is putting its own spin on the condotel format. Area luxury hotels are offering something different to prospective residents seeking relocation to a downtown condominium. The Austin-flavored setup provides residents with all the amenities and extras offered to hotel guests, but goes one step further by offering them a property they can permanently call home.

  • The 5 Fifty Five pioneered the sale of luxury high-rise condominiums atop the Hilton Austin downtown when it opened more than a year ago.
  • The Hilton's condominium units are at 70 percent capacity.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel Austin, located on the site of the former Four Seasons Residences, is working with local developers to provide similar offerings. Austinites desiring the convenience of a luxury hotel will find that it comes with a hefty price tag. Prices start near $300,000 and peak at over $2 million for top-of-the-line properties, adding up to about $600 per square foot.

Baby-boomers had really impacted our city and is partially responsible for the renewed interested in Downtown living. The condotel is a cool concept that I think will become more popular for the next 5-10 years as more Boomers move to cities such as Austin.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Group plans $11M student housing complex in West Campus

I just read today in the Austin Business Journal that a non-profit group called College Houses, Inc. plans to expand their bed count in the "West Campus" area of Austin. They currently have six co-op residential properties with 45 beds. They plan to increase this to 160 by adding several stories to their properties at 1905 and 1907 Nueces.

West Campus is always going to be a great area to live in. The proximity to both the University of Texas and Downtown Austin can't be beat. The only downside to this area is the cost of everything. Land is expensive, duplexes and houses are expensive, commercial properties are expensive. Investors often have a hard time getting the CAP rates that they're looking for.

Although rents are coming back in this area, it's still a little tough to get cash flow. Most investors enter this market understanding that they're buying an appreciation property. Larger commercial investments may have a better chance of paying off than smaller residential investments. In this case, the group already owns the land, which is an optimal situation in that area.

Of course, I'll keep you updated on their progress as well as any other new developments in this part of the city.

 

Read more online: Group plans $11M student housing complex in West Campus

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Wiki" Site Posts Austin's Hottest Projects

For those of you clamoring to know about new residential projects in Austin, I found a great WIKI that shares this information. A WIKI is an online encyclopedia that is constructed of posts shared by many authors. Anyone can write to a WIKI and provide their expertise.

I like the WIKI provided by UrbanAustin.org because it's a great way to share information about the latest new real estate projects in Austin. It's tough sometimes finding these details, but Austin is a sharing community. I appreciate the people who posted what they knew and I will follow up by posting any new information that I get as well.

If you go to the WIKI, you'll notice many projects in Downtown and Central Austin. This is where the most appreciation will occur, so buyers are encouraged to stay in the loop by visiting the site every few weeks or at least on a regular basis.

Friday, June 30, 2006

22-story Condo Breaks Ground in Austin

The Austin Business Journal reported on the 22-story condo project that broke ground in Austin this week. The Shore, a 192-unit residential complex, is slated for completion in January 2008. More than 80 percent of the units in a new high-rise condominium tower on Town Lake are committed even though the project just officially broke ground Wednesday.

"The Shore's location on the edge of downtown in a neighborhood known as the Rainey Street District will help improve an area that has been underdeveloped in recent years, says Downtown Austin Alliance Executive Director Charlie Betts. As the development's pre-sales figures illustrate, prime access to both downtown and Town Lake are amenities people are willing to pay, and wait, for.

Now with the nearby Milago Condominiums project close to completion and construction underway on the Mexican-American Cultural Center, Betts says he expects to see more high-density residential developments in the district."

Downtown Austin will continue to grow. We've seen the boom coming for years, but it is now in full swing.

Dee Copeland, Investment Specialist
AustinHomeNews.com, Team Dee Residential
eRealtyAlliance Commercial Real Estate

Monday, June 19, 2006

Downtown Austin Apartments, Condos Are HOT

The Austin skyline is rapidly changing. Within the next two years, there will be at least three new downtown condo developments. The Austin American Statesman newspaper described three projects, two of which will be among the tallest buildings in Downtown Austin when they are complete.

  • The 360 will be 44 floors, 432 units. Prices for one-bedroom units will be just under $200k with two-bed units under $300k. Completion is scheduled for late 2007.
  • Red River Flats will be four floors, 120 units. Rents will range from $1350-2520 per month. Completion is estimated at July 2007.
  • Spring will be at  Third and Bowie streets, near the old Seaholm Power Plant. Units will be $200-400k. The 36 floor, 220 unit complex is scheduled to open in 2008.

For those of you interested, you can read more about Downtown apartments, condos on the rise.

---
Dee Copeland, Investment Specialist
AustinHomeNews.com, Team Dee Residential
eRealtyAlliance Commercial Real Estate

Friday, June 09, 2006

Austin Adopts the "McMansion" Restrictions

It's done! Austin has officially adopting the McMansion Regulations. From the AUSTIN (statesman.com)

After hearing public comments for four hours, the Austin City Council passed rules limiting homes to either 2,300 square feet or a square footage equal to no more than 40 percent of the lot size. Attics, small attached garages and first-floor porches are not included in the square-foot calculations.

Homes must sit at least 25 feet from the street with five-foot setbacks on the sides and ten feet in the back. Also, they cannot be taller than 32 feet, which is shorter than the current 35-foot height limit. The rules, scheduled to go into effect October 1, apply to new and remodeled single-family homes and duplexes in older, central-city areas.

Residents in these areas have complained about big houses that block sunlight, destroy trees and change the character of their neighborhoods. At the city council meeting, which lasted until 3:30 this morning, 226 people signed up to speak in favor of the restrictions, and 146 wanted to speak in protest.

The city plans to hire a professional firm that will translate the rules into pictures and graphics.

Austin Adopts the "McMansion" Restrictions

It's done! Austin has officially adopting the McMansion Regulations. From the AUSTIN (statesman.com)

After hearing public comments for four hours, the Austin City Council passed rules limiting homes to either 2,300 square feet or a square footage equal to no more than 40 percent of the lot size. Attics, small attached garages and first-floor porches are not included in the square-foot calculations.

Homes must sit at least 25 feet from the street with five-foot setbacks on the sides and ten feet in the back. Also, they cannot be taller than 32 feet, which is shorter than the current 35-foot height limit. The rules, scheduled to go into effect October 1, apply to new and remodeled single-family homes and duplexes in older, central-city areas.

Residents in these areas have complained about big houses that block sunlight, destroy trees and change the character of their neighborhoods. At the city council meeting, which lasted until 3:30 this morning, 226 people signed up to speak in favor of the restrictions, and 146 wanted to speak in protest.

The city plans to hire a professional firm that will translate the rules into pictures and graphics.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Arts Center Slated for 600 River St. in Austin

A $10.5M building permit has been applied for by the City of Austin. The Mexican-American Cultural Center will be at 600 River Street, which is just south of East Cesar Chavez and Downtown Austin.

According to the city website, "The 126,000 s.f. Cultural Center is to be dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation and promotion of Mexican-American cultural arts and heritage. Phase I will include an outdoor plaza and a two-story structure to house offices with classrooms/meeting rooms. A multi-purpose building will be designed and constructed that will seat 300 people for a performance or 150 for a sit down dinner. Associated surface parking and landscaping will also be part of Phase I. Ultimately a large 800 seat theater, a small 300 seat theater, the outdoor Plaza, and the two story education, exhibit, rehearsal and office building and a two story parking garage will be built."

View conceptual drawings online.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Downtown Austin To Be Redeveloped

Downtown Austin has changed over the past 20 years. High-rises and more residential living space is on the way. The city of Austin has provided  a great website that links to Downtown Austin projects and future developments. The site provides link to the Downtown Austin neighborhood plan, retail strategy, emerging projects, current projects, and a city report.

Users can download PDFs of data. View the site online.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Links for More Info on McMansions Development Regulations

For those interested in the Interim Single Family and Duplex Development Regulations, here is a compiled list of links. This does not affect commercial building.

  1. City Planning and Zoning
  2. Receive Email Notices
  3. View a PDF of the Ordinance
  4. View a PDF of the Task Force
  5. Planning Commission Regulations
  6. View a PDF of the Public Hearing Notices
  7. Email City Council