La Vista on Lavaca, an eight-story residential mixed-use tower consisting of 19 condominiums on the top four floors, a three-floor Executive Business Center, and first floor restaurant, seems to have halted construction mid-way throught the process. The project was being developed by Guerrero-McDonald.
While outside of the downtown focus of this site, La Vista on Lavaca may be an unusual mid-project catatrastrophe. Typically, projects do not break ground until they have lined-up enough sales to receive financing to support the entire construction process. The developers of La Vista on Lavaca — which billed the project as “Downtown Living for Grown-up Texans” — began construction after receiving a building permit and a street closure permit last April. They renewed the street closure permit once in November but failed to renew it at it’s recent anniversary.
While it is unknown why the project halted construction and whether it will resume, it appears that construction has actually been frozen for months. The developers claim that the project will be completed and that construction was to resume soon. They have not explained why it stopped for many months this winter and spring. There is also no word on how many units were actually sold and whether the buyer will receive credits or their money back for the severe construction delays.
With the interest raccumulating quickly and contracts that typically require developers to meet tight deadlines, mid-construction stoppages are extremely rare. Typically, stoppages only occur when projects run out of money or when the developer and key contractors win-up in a legal dispute.
Here is a summary from the Statesman:
Jeffee Palmer had gotten used to the inconvenience caused by construction on Lavaca Street between 17th and 18th streets, and then she started wondering what happened to it.
For almost a year, Palmer has taken a circuitous route around a part of West 17th Street that is closed at Lavaca to get to a parking garage a block from the William P. Clements State Office Building, where she works as an assistant attorney general. That part of 17th Street is a major eastbound link for several thousand state employees who work in the Stephen F. Austin, the William B. Travis, the Lyndon B. Johnson and other state buildings just to the east.
In addition to the 17th Street closure, a block of the right lane of Lavaca Street has been closed for almost a year.
The developers of La Vista on Lavaca, a luxury condominium and office project, took out a permit with the City of Austin on April 20, 2007, to close the block of 17th Street between Lavaca and Colorado streets during construction, said Jason Redfern, manager of the Right of Way Management Division in the city’s Watershed Protection and Development Review Department.
The developers paid $99,900 to the city to keep the street closed for six months, Redfern said. The permit was to have been renewed for the same fee every six months until construction was completed.
The developers renewed their street permit in November 2007 but failed to renew it in April, Redfern said.
No one in Redfern’s department knew when construction stopped, but Palmer said she has not seen anyone working at the site for months.
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the north and West 15th Street to the south are strained during rush hour, Palmer said. Impatient motorists often drive into parking garages through the exit ramps to avoid traffic, she said.
As she stood in front of the construction site Tuesday, two Department of Public Safety squad cars drove into the garage from the exit-only side.
Palmer said she began searching the Internet about three weeks ago for a phone number to call to get an answer about why the street remained closed.
An e-mail inquiry to the Public Works’ Street and Bridge Division yielded a telephone number that provided an automated message offering Palmer several options for having building permit questions answered.
“I was trying to find out what kind of animal is this that the city can close down public access indefinitely,” Palmer said. “I realized that it was going to take me too much work to find out. That’s when I got in touch with Statesman Watch.”
Until Tuesday, Redfern said, the city was not aware that the developers owed $99,900 to renew the street closure permit and didn’t know why construction had stopped.
Redfern said that he began making inquiries and that he was told that construction would resume soon. “This one is very unusual,” Redfern said. “You normally don’t see construction starting and stopping like this.”
Mary Guerrero-McDonald, one of the principals in the La Vista on Lavaca development, disputed the city’s contention that its street permits were not current.