According to new city filings, Austin’s latest tower could rise in an unlikely location. Documents from a utilities coordination commission meeting last week give us a first look at 410 Uptown, an office tower with a ground floor retail space planned at the corner of West 18th and San Antonio Streets.
That’s just one block south of MLK Jr. Boulevard and the West Campus area, and it’s also worth noting that the site is about a block from White Lodging’s dual-branded hotel project at 1901 San Antonio Street. I’m at a loss for what to call this part of town — East Judge’s Hill? Northwest Downtown? The Downtown That Time Forgot?
Located at 410 West 18th Street, the site is currently occupied by an abandoned commercial building that dates back to the 1940s. The property is owned by 410 West 18, LLC, a company affiliated with Mid-City Development, a local firm with a few notable fingerprints around the city including the J. Bouldin condo project and the Alterstudio-designed 1010 West 10th Street — some of my favorites, actually!
So what’s on the table here? From the city filings last week, all we’d know is that it’s an office tower with ground-floor retail, like I said — but there’s another source of information that gives us more. The project actually has a (mildly janky) website, courtesy of Peloton Commercial Real Estate, who seem to be marketing the building.
There’s also an entry for the tower in the online portfolio of The Burt Group — who appear to be building the project — which names Gensler as its architect of record. The folks at Gensler stay busy, don’t they?
So here it is, in all its glory. Peloton’s brochure marketing the 410 Uptown project describes a 12-story building with 186,957 total square feet. Most of that is office space, with about 7,600 square feet allocated to retail on the first floor — almost certainly destined for restaurant use, if you look at the plans below.
There’s also an integrated parking garage, which takes up part of the ground floor and rises until what appears to be the fifth floor — kinda hard to tell from the drawing.
So what are we knocking down to build this thing? The commercial building currently on the site was originally built in the 1940s as a garage for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, until the mid-1960s when the space became the headquarters for the W.O. Harper Plumbing Company.
There are a few small office spaces on the eastern side of the building that appear to have been most recently occupied by realty and legal offices, but the whole thing’s vacant at this point as far as I can see. The graffiti and boarded up windows certainly suggest it.
The plumbing company’s billboard was visible to generations of students at the University of Texas, facing north towards campus. It’s still there, but it’s pretty tough to get a decent look at it these days without getting hit by a car.
The building was up for demolition back in 2014, when the Historic Landmark Commission determined it wasn’t quite interesting enough for landmark designation — but it’s still sitting there empty to this day.
Last week’s filings that got this on my radar in the first place propose demolition as part of site prep for the new project, so there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing some movement on this corner relatively soon. Have they figured out what they’re doing with that plumbing sign? I’d love to take it off their hands — my inbox is open, folks.