Last November, developers announced plans for 74 units to be developed on the eastern edge of Zilker Park on Barton Springs Road. With units starting at $300K and topping out near $1.3 million, the 3 building project was to sit on the border of the park with direct access to the hike and bike trails. Over the last few weeks, as listings were pulled from the MLS, it became clear that a change was in the works.
Today, the developers announced a radically different plan for the site with revised plans that include a reduction from 74 to 40 larger units, the addition of a hotel, and an expansion of the site through the purchase of an adjacent restaurant (formerly Wanfu Tool).
Here are the key details on the new project:
– 40 units ranging in size from a 1,515 square foot one bedroom to the largest 3,241 square foot unit.
– Prices range from $659,000, one of the highest starting prices of any project in Austin, to $1.4 million. According to the developers, about 1/3 of prospective buyers are contracting for multiple units, the highest priced of which has been near $3 million for 6,700 square feet.
– The project will include three 5-story condo buildings and a fourth building will house the newly-announced 65-room boutique hotel
– Although the project has not received construction financing, work is expected to begin in March with the first residents moving in as early as March of 2010. No clear timeline has been disclosed for construction of the hotel.
– As expected, access to the adjacent park is the top selling point and key differentiator for the project.
– 16 of the 40 units, or 40%, or have been sold (or are pending) with deposits of 10-15%.
– According to the developers, most of the buyers are empty-nesters and many are paying in cash.
– A sales center will open in the former restaurant building as soon as November.
The repositioning of Zilker Park Residences shows that while the market is tough, well-positioned boutique projects can be successful. With 40% of units accounted for, ZIlker Park Residences is off to a strong start. The up-market repositioning of the project based on early sales shows that demand remains for high-end downtown housing is real, and this bodes well for other projects currently under development. In addition, it also shows that demand for boutique hotel rooms remains strong. No doubt, this will be the toughest hotel room to book during the Austin City Limits Festival.
ZIlker Park Residences
Here is a summary of the project from the Austin American Statesman:
Developer John Wooley has added a boutique hotel to his proposed condominium project on Barton Springs Road bordering Zilker Park. He also has a new financial partner — the real estate development firm of Fort Worth billionaire Ed Bass.
Original plans for the project, announced in November, had 74 condominium units at the eastern edge of the park. The new design includes 40 condominiums and a 65-room boutique hotel whose operator Wooley said he’s not ready to disclose.
Wooley also has purchased the former Wanfu Too restaurant site on Barton Springs Road, expanding the size of the project to just less than two acres.
His partners in the project are his brother, Jeff Wooley, and Sands Harris, a Harvard-educated architect and veteran developer of condo and mixed-use projects, including five such projects in the 72-acre master-planned Victory development in Dallas.
Fineline Diversified Development, Bass’ development and investment arm, is a new equity partner. Bass was the equity partner in La Frontera, the 330-acre master-planned commercial development in Round Rock . . .
Prices are expected to range from $659,000 for a one-bedroom unit with 1,515 square feet to $1.4 million for a unit with 3,241 square feet. However, Wooley said about a third of prospective buyers are contracting for combined units, and the highest priced of those is in the $3 million range, for a unit with 6,700 square feet.
All will have balconies and screened porches.
Wooley said he decided to go with fewer but larger units based on the response to his initial marketing efforts.
Most potential buyers “are empty-nesters or people who soon will be,” he said. “A lot of them have pretty large families, and when their children and grandchildren come home, they don’t want to be in a loft or a one-bedroom.”
Wooley said he has signed or pending contracts for 16 units, with buyers paying deposits of 10 or 15 percent.
Wooley said most of the buyers “are clearly planning on not having a mortgage,” and thus won’t be affected by the credit crunch that is limiting the availability of home loans.
Boecker said the project was appealing for several reasons, including the involvement of Sands and John Wooley, and the location near Austin’s most prized park.