Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve watched cities around the nation bend over backwards for a chance at the economic windfall of a second Amazon corporate headquarters — even Cleveland. Cleveland!
I was never under the impression Austin was a major contender, with the details of Amazon’s RFP appearing fairly out of alignment with the transit and space requirements our city would be able to reasonably fulfill. Of course, my intuition might not be much better than a coin toss, and the latest coverage puts Austin’s chances a lot higher than I’d ever expect.
So let’s just say, for the sake of thinking this through, that Austin scores the bid for Amazon’s new legion of doom — where would it go?
Unless you’re holding out for the former Motorola site in East Austin (I don’t think so, Tim), the only realistic area for HQ2 to go is East Riverside. The area’s boom was a long time coming, but the construction of Oracle’s massive new corporate campus on Lakeshore Drive has certainly driven a particular trend in the area we’re now apparently calling the South Shore.
Almost directly adjacent to the Oracle site is the mysterious development/awesome title for a direct-to-video action movie, Project Catalyst, and I firmly believe that if Amazon picks Austin for HQ2, the Catalyst site is where they’ll land. I’m waiting to be spectacularly proven wrong, but in my mind it’s the most likely location in the city for a project like this by far. Here’s a little refresher:
Most of what we know about this potential 79-acre mixed-use development comes from an Austin Business Journal article that dropped nearly a year ago. Since then, we’ve seen a few minor bubbles of info on the project, but nothing conclusive enough to satisfy all our needs. Over the last week or so, public interest in large-scale office developments in Austin has hit a fever pitch, for some reason, so now feels like a great time to revisit this project and lay out all the details we’ve got at the moment.
Between Oracle’s campus and whatever’s going on with the Catalyst development, all of a sudden every multifamily project announced in the area feels extra meaningful. Here’s a closer look at a few developments going on close to the action in the East Riverside region, representing more than 1,000 units between them.
Four South Shore District
South Shore District is a Planned Unit Development by Houston-based developer Grayco Partners of multiple apartments along South Lakeshore Boulevard, a stone’s throw from our friends at Oracle. With three buildings completed already, it appears we’re overdue for Episode IV — good thing that permit popped up a few days ago! Four South Shore, which is also a great name for my new boy band, will include 322 units and absolutely no retail, according to planning documents. That’s because the building is part of the larger South Shore District PUD, and some of the other buildings in the project already include enough retail space to meet the city’s requirements.
The strangest thing about this project’s 3.25-acre site at 1115 Town Creek Drive is the density of heritage trees on the site. It’s really quite beautiful, and I’m hoping the building finds a way to accommodate as many as possible.
It appears at least a few of these trees are preserved in the plans above — that’s what the big circles up top are for.
South Shore Highline
This project’s the wildcard, an upcoming mixed-use apartment community with retail wedged into a 1.27-acre plot between another apartment complex and an auto parts store at 2435 East Riverside Drive. We don’t yet know the developer for the project, with current city filings only mentioning planning firm Kimley-Horn.
It’s kinda far east, and its surroundings wouldn’t really draw much attention, except for the fact that the site’s almost directly across the street from the assembled land for Project Catalyst. Promotional materials for the property mention a possible unit count of between 100 and upwards of 350, but besides the name, that’s basically all we know for the moment.
The word “luxury” is just about meaningless at this point, but it’s still a surprise to see a development of this variety plunking itself down in a neighborhood where there’s still bars on the windows of most gas stations. That’s Austin, baby! The Edison, a 354-unit apartment community on a 9.2-acre tract at 4711 East Riverside Drive is described by developer Presidium Group as an “upscale, sustainable” project — look, more words that can simultaneously mean everything and nothing!
Really, it’s a nice looking project, but more importantly, it probably signals that developers in the city have a fairly good idea of the district’s future. Even if Project Catalyst never turns up, the Oracle offices and general development trend in the rest of the city is going to make the southeast corner of town desirable for projects like these, rather than the low-rent and student-oriented apartments you’d previously find.
Hey, we’ve got a rendering for this one too! Aura Riverside, a 348-unit apartment community planned at 6101 and 6205 East Riverside Drive by developers Trinsic Residential Group, is pretty far out east compared to everything else — it’s all the way out by Montopolis Drive! But I guess that’s just more evidence that the region’s multifamily boom isn’t restricted to the area of East Riverside directly adjacent to the highway.