Development in downtown Austin supposedly happens in cycles, where a lot of buildings get announced all at once, a select few of them slooooowly come together, and by the time they’re finished, a new wave of building announcements wipes our memory of the last one.
Of course, the more you follow downtown projects, the more the concept of these cycles feels useless — there’s just stuff happening seemingly every day in all directions, even if it’s small stuff. That’s good news for you and me, because I get to keep writing until my fingers fall off. Here we go again:
Downtown Radisson -> Line Hotel Conversion
My favorite downtown hotel project of the moment is the long-awaited $75 million Line Hotel conversion of the Radisson Hotel at Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue. Not only is owner Sydell Group restoring the original midcentury building to its former glory, we can expect new dining and bar options in the space as well — you guys remember when it used to have a TGI Fridays?
The first sign of progress other than sweet renderings has arrived within the last few weeks, as the outside of the building begins to lighten up with a new coat of paint from its previous exterior color, which to me looked a lot like the breading on a mozzarella stick from TGI Fridays. It’s brighter and friendlier now, and soon may not even be considered an eyesore. Signs and wonders abound in this city.
Fairmont Austin / Convention Center Skybridge
If Austin is the canvas, skybridges are the paint, and I’m already tired of this torturous metaphor. Anyway, they’re suddenly everywhere, but the biggest and baddest of them all is the bridge under construction connecting the Fairmont Austin and the Austin Convention Center over Waller Creek. It doesn’t take a straight shot, but rather meanders over the lush greenery and uh, I guess we’ll call them wetlands of the creekbed, and its design reflects that environmental consciousness via some undulations and stuff. It’s actually pretty neat in the renderings:
Regardless of whether or not you’re extremely mad about skybridges in Austin as a general concept, the project includes some Waller Creek Conservancy-partnered improvements to the creek area below and around the bridge, so it’s a net gain for everyone. Simmer down, I think it looks nice.
Republic Square Re-Opening
— Emily H. Smith (@ehsinatx) October 5, 2017
Downtown’s formerly neglected, currently not-neglected park space opened to the public last week with only slight fanfare, gifting us amusing signage and a big grackle statue, among other improvements. The park’s grand opening, which will include the debut of public restrooms and a cafe, won’t happen until the spring, but at least the fences are down so everyone can enjoy the space again. The Sustainable Food Center’s weekly farmers’ market, which previously took place in the park every Saturday, starts back up this weekend.
Littlefield Building Parklet
Looks like the eternal competition between the Scarbrough and Littlefield Buildings continues — the other week, we noted plans for a sidewalk cafe at the Scarbrough Building, and now we’ve found plans for a parklet and outdoor dining space to be installed at the Littlefield Building just across the intersection of Congress Avenue and Sixth Street. Both plans date back a ways, so it’s actually unclear which was proposed first — in the interest of peace between buildings, let’s just say they both had the idea at the same time.