A proposed planned unit development agreement for an approximately four-acre tract at 200 East Riverside Drive in Austin’s emerging South Central Waterfront district could replace a state office complex dating back to 1970 with two new towers each rising more than 400 feet, according to city filings added this week. Most recently serving as office space for the Texas Department of Transportation, the state agency’s recent construction of a new consolidated headquarters in Southeast Austin has suddenly left the site prime for redevelopment.
Its location, directly south of the prominent 19-acre former waterfront headquarters of the Austin American-Statesman at 305 South Congress Avenue now headed for a multi-tower project by developers Endeavor Real Estate Group, places it near the heart of the 118-acre region described by the city’s South Central Waterfront Initiative — an ongoing planning effort working to steer the redevelopment of this area’s many large low-density tracts into a more cohesive downtown-adjacent district.
A promotional video from Endeavor Real Estate Group outlining the 305 South Congress project, planned directly north of the 200 East Riverside Drive site now up for development after this week’s PUD filing.
The PUD filing, submitted by law firm Armbrust & Brown on behalf of land owner Rogan Giles and also listing local civil engineering firm GarzaEMC alongside architects STG Design, describes two towers reaching a maximum height of 410 feet — depending on floor height, that’s a building of 30 stories or more. Together, the towers will contain a whopping 1,377,787 square feet of office space with 29,318 square feet of ground-level retail use — a significant improvement in density over the current condition of the property, which pairs its 51,285-square-foot office building with more than 90,000 square feet of surface parking lots.
In fact, the development outlined in this filing would actually reduce the current impervious cover of the site from 89.8 percent to 80 percent, integrating close to an acre of open outdoor space and preserving all of the site’s qualifying heritage trees — another pleasant side effect of building tall instead of wide. (Although design details are still scarce for the new plan at the moment, it’s safe to assume that instead of the current surface lots, the buildings will integrate a structured parking component, perhaps partially or entirely below-grade if we’re lucky.)
The ultimate goal of the planned unit development is to build a project superior to what’s currently allowed at the site by its existing zoning, keeping in mind the vision of the South Central Waterfront plan along with the future presence of a Capital Metro rail station here as part of Project Connect’s Blue Line:
The current development on the Property consists of approximately 89.8% impervious cover. The proposed PUD will remove the existing building and surface parking areas and construct two new towers which will reduce the overall impervious cover by 9.8%. The PUD proposes to create a lively, attractive pedestrian environment by expanding open space, a location for a future Capital Metro rail station, and enhancing connections to and along the waterfront. The proposed PUD will preserve trees, incorporate green infrastructure, and keep the natural and traditional character of the land.
— 200 East Riverside PUD Filing
We’ll probably learn more of the finer details about what’s planned here as the PUD moves forward with the city — but for now, this filing already represents an extremely satisfying bit of personal news for yours truly. In the summer of 2014, I worked out of these offices as an intern for TxDOT’s illustrious travel magazine, Texas Highways — and while I have no complaints about the internship itself, I can assure you that the whole building is a legendary dump, and absolutely no one is going to miss it.