After developing and selling out 360 — one of the most successful downtown projects — Novare Group announced in 2008 that they would build two new towers on Block 51 & 52. The prime downtown blocks, one the site of the downtown post office and the other on an adjacent block to the West of the post office, were to contain 900 condo units in two 37 and 40 floor towers which were to be completed by 2012. Needless to say, the real estate crisis and ensuing commercial credit crunch forced Novare to rethink their plans.
The Austin Downtown Post Office
Last week, an engineering firm filed paperwork indicated that Endeavor Real Estate Group now plans to develop a 195,000 square foot 14-story office tower and garage on the Block 51lot. The project no longer contains any condo units as originally planned. The new project is slated to use just the southern half of the lot, leaving options for future development of the remaining portion.
Originally, the development plans for Block 51 were to contain plans for a new downtown post office. This would allow demolition of the existing post office, freeing up a prime downtown site. The downtown post office is considered an urban disaster — it wastes a prime downtown block with a low rise building surrounded by a parking lot.
According to the Statesman, “The office tower would include a restaurant, bank and a parking garage, according to plans on file with the city. Last May, Taylor Andrews, president of Andrews Urban, said Novare Group and IBC at that time were still working on a possible condo project on Block 51. However, Andrews, who is Novare’s Austin partner, said that plans for that project, and a condo tower and hotel Novare planned on the neighboring post office site, would depend on obtaining construction financing in the constrained lending environment.”