Here’s a few updates on projects downtown we’re keeping an eye on. Wait, didn’t we just do this? Yeah, but honestly, there’s enough going on in the city to check in with a new post every couple of weeks. Lucky you!
1. 3rd & Colorado Tower
The 44-story mixed-use tower planned for the site at Third and Colorado Streets currently occupied by Sullivan’s Steakhouse is hitting a few speed bumps. The city’s Historic Landmark Commission discussed the project at their meeting on Monday of this last week, and voted to move forward with the process of historic zoning for the building currently on the site housing Sullivan’s, which dates back to 1924.
This would naturally prevent developer Riverside Resources from demolishing the structure, so without some significant design changes to accomodate the historic building, the project would effectively die in committee. Per the commission:
This building is too important to the character of the
Warehouse District to not entertain and evaluate options other than strict demolition.
— Historic Landmark Commission, August 28
It certainly is an interesting building — the commission’s research backing up the possibility of historic zoning mentions that before the warehouse-style building on the site was built in 1924, it was originally home to a block of brothels and other houses of ill-repute. Don’t forget, this area used to be “Guy Town” long before anyone came up with “Warehouse District.”
Anyway, the commission eventually elected to table further discussion of historic zoning until its September 25th meeting. That’s going to be fun.
2. Hotel Zaza
Though it’s taken years to get off the ground, we’re finally seeing progress on the Hotel Zaza at West Fourth and Guadalupe Streets, a 24-story tower combining a boutique hotel and about 200 apartment units. To be fair, the only real news regarding this project is that it’s actually happening — after watching the site sit there for months and months, even after groundbreaking, six floors of progress is actually kind of a milestone.
3. The Avenue
This car-free residential tower is one of my favorite emerging projects in town, planned with absolutely no parking at 721 Congress Avenue and designed to rise from a tiny footprint on the corner of Congress Avenue and East Eighth Street. The lack of an integrated garage podium or excavated parking component in the building is a forward-thinking design shared by other projects in the area like the Aloft & Element Hotels just one block south.
But last I checked, all was not well with the Avenue, with the Historic Landmark Commission raising some serious concerns about the project’s street-level design not fitting with the architectural character of the historic district around it.
It’s unclear what, if anything, the building’s developers did to accommodate the needs of the commission, but this week the project’s site plan is now listed as approved and released in the city’s permit database — so there seems to be a fighting chance this building will move forward.
4. Fifth Street Conversion
Don’t mind that whole mess over on Colorado Street — as of this week, you can drive both ways on Fifth Street! From Brazos Street to the I-35 Frontage Road, it’s two-way nirvana, with all the appropriate signals and lane stripes on deck.
It’s pretty weird to drive what still feels like the wrong direction on this street, so if you get off on the illusion of subverting authority, now’s the time to go tear up the road. Vroom!
5. 70 Rainey
Like the Hotel Zaza, the biggest update on this project is simply that it’s happening. We saw glacial progress at the 70 Rainey site for months, but the development is really starting to hit its stride this summer, with seven stories raised as of today. Only 28 to go!
6. Whole Foods ft. Amazon
Here’s a quick one — with Amazon’s acquisition of formerly-homegrown grocer Whole Foods, we’re seeing some quick changes at the flagship downtown location. For one thing, there’s an Amazon Locker installed near the entrance, for quick package pickup. For another thing, there’s this:
— manuel christoffel (@manuel_c) August 29, 2017
Welcome to the future, I guess!
7. Fairmont Austin Spire
For best results, watch in HD
Finally, here’s an excuse to post this video of the aircraft warning light powered up atop the Fairmont Austin’s spire, which appears to be in the final stages of construction. That scaffolding is like, white-knuckle scary, but I kinda wish I could get up there and see the view.
Not to put anyone on notice, but the hotel’s site still lists an opening date of “Late Fall 2017” — you think they’re gonna make that date?