Excavation is already well underway at the corner of East Sixth and Chicon Streets. For East Austin, it feels like a tale as old as time — or at least as old as this side of town’s reputation as one of the hippest places on earth, love it or hate it. This particular corner is receiving a double dose of economic development, with the 83-room Arrive boutique hotel set to deliver in 2019, and office project 1801 East 6th in the early stages next door on the western side.
The Arrive project has received enough attention, but what’s the deal with the other building? 1801 East 6th, planned at 1801 East Sixth Street (I know, I know), is a five-story office building going up courtesy of Riverside Resources. If you’re the type to keep a finger on the pulse of real estate development in this glorious city, that name probably rings a bell — but if you don’t, it probably won’t. Despite its status as one of Austin’s most sophisticated development firms, Riverside Resources doesn’t do much to elevate itself in the public eye.
But when you’re sitting on a portfolio that includes Fifth & West, the tower planned at 3rd and Colorado Streets, the Whitley apartments, and numerous other projects in the general area, I’m sure a little obscurity suits you just fine. Despite the low profile, Riverside Resources principal Jeremy Smitheal and his associates met with me last week to paint a better picture of what the firm has planned for 1801 East 6th. I’ve been interested in the project ever since I dug up the first rendering what feels like a million years ago, so let’s run down the details on this building real quick:
- Five floors of office space
- Underground parking
- 134,368 total square feet
- 90+ bike storage spaces
- Employee showers (for the aforementioned bike owners, I presume)
- An outdoor garden with a four-cistern rainwater collection system
- A private amenity courtyard for employees
The building should be open for business by 2019. Barrett Lepore, an associate at the firm, gave me a few more details on the project, though you can pretty much see it from the renderings — its exterior look, courtesy of GDA Architects, is definitely warehouse-inspired.
Those are real steel I-beams used for its exterior design, along with the red-brick look I enjoy so much due to its relative rarity in the city. Lepore says they want to make a building that looks like it’s been there for a while, and considering how many projects of this scale around town seem to cheap out on materials, it’s a goal I can get behind.
If you’re not a future tenant or employee, the most interesting component of the project besides its exterior design will probably be the rain garden on the western side of the site. Behind the four aesthetically-pleasing catchment tanks sits a large heritage pecan tree, which Riverside Resources elected to leave alone, despite its position representing a non-trivial loss in square footage for the building.
Still, it’s probably the right call — old-growth pecan trees are particularly difficult to successfully transplant due to their large taproot systems, so there’s a good chance the tree wouldn’t have survived had the developer elected to move it. Plus, we got a rain garden out of the deal.
To me, what’s really noteworthy about this project is that it’s just an office building — no mixed-use ground-floor retail or restaurant space going on here. It’s a type of development I think we’re going to see more and more as the east side develops, with the upcoming East 6 office project down the road also taking this approach.
From a cynical perspective, you might accuse this development of leeching off the coolness of its surroundings without bringing anything new to the table for those of us who don’t work there, but I think the project’s marketing materials speak for themselves — within a five-minute walk of the 1801 East 6th project, there are apparently more than 20 restaurants, 30 bars, and nine coffee shops. Adding retail space, despite its street-level appeal, just doesn’t represent enough of a benefit to the developer when the neighborhood already has so much to offer.
This fact is compounded by the Arrive hotel next door, which will include a restaurant and bar space and actually share a driveway with this project. It’s worth noting that Ezra Callahan, one of the tech-minded Arrive brand’s co-founders, is perhaps better known as the sixth employee of a little company called Facebook. Certainly would make sense for another tech company to cozy up next door to a hotel seemingly dedicated to embracing our connected future, but what do I know?
For what it’s worth, Riverside Resources seems to be very friendly with the hotel — corporate tenants at the 1801 East 6th building will receive discounts on room reservations, along with other amenities. I guess it pays to be good neighbors.
UPDATE: Hey, turns out analytics software developer SAS already signed a 30,000 square foot lease for the top floor of this building earlier this week. That leaves more than 100,000 square feet still available. Enjoy those cheap hotel rooms, SAS!