The final undeveloped section of the former Green Water Treatment Plant in downtown Austin, the 1.26-acre site known as Block 185 at 601 West Second Street, has remained an object of curiosity for years.
Even as the plots around it developed into buildings like Northshore, the new Central Library, Austin Proper, and so on, the future of that last block in the area’s master-planned redevelopment stayed uncertain. I’ve seen at least four, possibly five design permutations for a potential tower on the Trammell Crow Company-owned property, but none of them stuck around for very long.
Still, increasing city filings for the site over the last few months along with the healthy rumor mill of our local skyscraper enthusiast community kept expectations high. Today, at long last, new city filings give us a brief, but meaningful glimpse at the likely future of the site, in the form of a 35-story, 593-foot office tower, which clocks in at 719,470 total square feet:
That’s really something, isn’t it? We already knew, at least roughly, what a tower here would look like — in terms of design, setbacks are imposed upon it from the direction of Shoal Creek at the west of the site and Lady Bird Lake to its south, meaning most of the designs we saw were vaguely pyramidal.
Still, this sail-shaped tower is striking in a way we haven’t seen much in Austin before. We talked about starchitects last week, but it feels like the rumors on this one might have been off the mark. On these documents, which date back a couple of months but only just now became accessible due to their appearance in city filings, the building’s architect is listed as STG Design — the folks behind the nearby Seaholm Residences and many other projects around town.
The plans we have access to aren’t complete, but the building appears to mix five levels of underground parking with 7 floors of parking above-ground — though the parking podium seems to be integrated well with the rest of the tower, unlike some other projects we’ve seen recently.
Despite earlier rumors of a residential project here, it’s no surprise the building’s almost entirely offices, with some retail space on the ground floor likely to be occupied by a restaurant. That, along with hotels to some degree, has been the overwhelming trend among new building announcements in this area, including the towers at 308 Guadalupe and Block 71. All three of these buildings also appear, to some degree, to embrace diagonals and curves in their designs — and in the case of Block 185, though it’s mandated by the site’s unique location, the design seems all the better for it.