In December, the 21c team returned to Austin to comment on the Waller Creek plan and to discuss their future intentions for their prime Waller Creek site adjoining Red River and Cesar Chavez downtown.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history, the project was originally scoped as a 44-story condo and hotel project on third and Brazos street. In a surprise move, the developers abandoned the planned third and Brazos project in favor of a new multi-building complex to be located a few blocks East on Waller Creek.
The new project, also to be named 21c, was slated to include a 16-story hotel with 243 rooms which would be followed by a 49-story condo tower. The hotel was supposed to break ground in 2009 and the condo tower was supposed to break ground by 2010. Then, the project became a victim of the financing crisis that has scuttled most of the other unbuilt Austin projects.
Fortunately, the developers keep trying to make the project work. In December, the 21c provided a basic overview of their current but unfunded plans for the site. First, the condos have been eliminated. In the current environment, it is simply not possible to fund a new high-end condo project in downtown Austin. Instead, the developers are focusing on a 31-story 350 unit apartment tower near the corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez. Rents would start at $1.50 per square foot which would mean $1,000 / month for a 700 square foot unit or $1,500 for a 1,000 square foot unit if they are able to hit the low-end of the target range. The goal would be to make the building 70% 1 bedroom / 1 bath units. As many as 10% of the units for be designated as affordable units with controlled rents.
The second tower — which is more precarious in the current environment — would be a 12-story 200 room hotel, spa, and restaurant. The developers are hoping to put parking underground and include ground retail in the project. Although no specifics have been announced, the third tower could include condos if at some point it does get built.
Since the plan remains unfunded, the project is not likely to rise anytime soon. But the fact that the developers are actively working with the city and still try to line-up funding means that a 21c project may be yet to rise.