It’s been six years since the announcement of a tower project at 99 Trinity Street in downtown Austin, but landowner WC 1st and Trinity LP has another problem on its hands besides the residential development’s seemingly complete lack of progress — an imminent threat of foreclosure by its lender.
Warehouses have occupied the southeast corner of Trinity and East Cesar Chavez Streets for many years, and remain vacant (aside from SXSW activations) in spite of a local real estate group’s 2012 purchase of the property and announcement of a residential tower development here in 2013.
A public notice from the Travis County clerk’s office, dated May 6 and posted in adherence with Texas foreclosure laws, indicates the roughly one-acre property at the southeast corner of East Cesar Chavez and Trinity Streets will be offered for sale on the steps of the Travis County Courthouse by lender United Heritage Credit Union’s appointed trustee, attorney Christopher Atwell, on June 4 at 11 a.m.
The property’s owner since 2012 is WC 1st and Trinity LP, a limited partnership affiliated with local real estate investor Nate Paul, who heads up various World Class and “WC”-branded entities. That limited partnership is also named as the grantor for 99 Trinity Street in these new documents, with $8,580,000 described as the sum borrowed from the owner’s lending bank via promissory note, which the tract’s sale is intended to repay. Notably, this amount is roughly half the value stated in the land’s 2019 Travis County tax assessment, $16,558,874.
A real estate investment group known around Austin perhaps equally for its staggering list of downtown property holdings and its ubiquitous banners, World Class-associated corporate entities have seen legal challenges and local controversy in the past regarding the group’s many transactions — but the potential foreclosure of this property is a particularly intriguing development for a site that’s remained one of the city’s most promising yet untouched infill locations for years.
Unconstrained by Capitol View Corridors and directly adjacent to both the Austin Convention Center and the Four Seasons Residences at San Jacinto Center, the lack of development at this property has remained a head-scratcher ever since World Class Capital (so named at the time) announced a 38-story residential tower project here in 2013, which then went by the moniker Trinity Tower. Despite sporadic updates and a Twitter account kept active until 2015, the building feels very firmly in limbo by 2019, even before taking the possible foreclosure into account.
Of course, foreclosure notices aren’t always the end of the line — this situation could still be worked out by refinancing the property. What’s more important to us is that the location doesn’t lie empty year after year, another casualty of the land speculation keeping giant blocks of downtown Austin either vacant, underused, or covered with parking lots in a region desperate for better urban connectivity.
Imagine visiting Austin for a convention and seeing this view directly across the street. If you didn’t know better, would you think you were anywhere close to the center of downtown?
With that in mind, whoever ends up owning 99 Trinity Street, whether it’s World Class or someone else, should seriously consider the cost of keeping this site the way it is — and maybe the current situation is exactly what we need to shake things up.