A redevelopment plan for a 1970s-era hotel site on the south edge of the St. Johns neighborhood in Northeast Austin could bring denser and taller development with up to 1,000 new homes at the northeast corner of the interchange of Highway 290 and Interstate 35, according to a rezoning application scheduled for a hearing at tomorrow’s meeting of the city’s Planning Commission.
The application, which is recommended by city staff and likely to secure approval from the commission due to its location away from single-family neighborhoods, would provide Planned Development Area zoning for the property at 6121 North I-35, a 7.91 acre tract occupied by a Radisson Hotel and its impressively large parking lot. The 298-room hotel, which was built in 1977 and before its change to the Radisson brand in 2021 was better known as the Crowne Plaza Hotel, was purchased last year by Pasadena-based hospitality investment firm ASAP Holdings, which is now seeking the PDA zoning change to unlock additional development potential at the site and refurbish the hotel into a more upmarket property under the Delta by Marriott brand.
What’s remarkable about the proposal described in the rezoning application is how much density its new owners can add to the property simply by placing buildings on existing surface parking lots, even while keeping the hotel in its current footprint — according to county records, roughly 50 percent of the nearly eight-acre tract is now covered with asphalt. The proposal described in the rezoning application would develop several new buildings containing structured parking replacing the existing surface parking lots, adding between 800 and 1,000 housing units alongside approximately 40,000 square feet of new retail space.
The applicants plan to reserve 10 percent of the residences built at the project for households earning no more than 60 percent of the Median Family Income, potentially representing millions of dollars in on-site affordable housing fully subsidized by the market-rate development at the property. Under the terms of the PDA rezoning, new buildings here could rise up to 200 feet, and due to the site’s current expanses of pavement all this development isn’t expected to significantly increase the land’s total impervious cover. Pull the slider to the right below to compare the existing state of this property with the concept rendering of its potential new development:
Despite its upcoming rezoning case, we don’t have a timeline for development at this site for now — considering recent multifamily lending trends, lately we’re taking a “hurry up and wait” perspective on projects like this that haven’t already broken ground. No matter how long it takes, it’s inspiring to see these parking-heavy sites in the central city begin weighing their options for retrofitting the legacy sprawl that’s defined the land use in this area for generations. We’ll let this particularly succinct sentence from city staff’s recommendation for the rezoning case speak for us all:
It is reasonable to expect large underutilized expansive parking lots proximate to the urban core to be redeveloped for more intensive uses.