It’s been too long since we’ve pulled off a nice lightning round of updates on the perpetual development machine of downtown Austin condos, apartments, offices, hotels, and so forth. Let’s fix that with some fresh photos and even fresher perspectives. In fact, the only thing that isn’t fresh about this post is us after going outside to take these photos. Don’t say we don’t stick out our necks for you!
17th and Guadalupe
The 27-story condo tower in the planning stages from New York development outfit Reger Holdings at 17th and Guadalupe Streets received the blessing of the city’s Design Commission earlier this week, with a couple of tweaks intended to make the building’s street-level environment more active and pedestrian-friendly. The initial reception wasn’t as good, and we questioned whether the changes suggested by the commission were completely necessary, but they ended up nice anyway:
Davidson said the project now stands at 28 stories — starting with about 5,000 square feet of leasable retail and art gallery space on the ground floor, topped by a parking garage and amenity deck and then the 117 residential units.
Davidson said one of the bigger changes made to the design was adding a canopy above the retail space and the residential lobby entry.
“Both those moves will … reinforce pedestrian activity,” Davidson said. “Even though there’s still a lot of glass and concrete, the overall effect is one that’s quite friendly to the passerby.”
He said they wanted to address concerns raised about the uninterrupted glass from floor to ceiling on the retail section of the project.
“Now that this canopy is there, it’s broken up,” Davidson said.
Davidson also said they reworked the art gallery corner to try to create a sort of art plaza with space for a bench or sculpture.
Previous plans called for a 27-story residential tower. It’s not immediately clear what the extra floor will be used for — Davidson did not return a request for comment.
The 31-story future headquarters for Parsley Energy developed at 300 Colorado Street by Cousins Properties, Ironwood Real Estate, and Riverside Resources is starting to get noticeable on our skyline from certain angles. Its exterior glass is also being installed as the project moves along, and the colors we saw in the initial renderings actually look more striking in person.
Downtown’s growing crop of towers could use more interesting colors of glass, and this is one of the most interesting going up at the moment. The shape of the building itself is pretty straightforward, so the enigmatic tint of its exterior glass does a lot of the heavy lifting. Depending on the side you’re looking at and the daylight situation at the time, the exterior can appear very dark, practically black, or silvery and extremely reflective — or a combination of all three, if that makes sense…you kind of have to see it in person to “get it.”
The black frames around the glass windows — technically known as “mullions” — are reminiscent of the big lovable monolith at 515 Congress Avenue, which is also one of our skyline’s more eccentric members.
Speaking of building colors, after more than two years of repainting, the Hilton Austin and 5 Fifty Five condos at 500 East Fourth Street have finally pulled off a new look.
Lighting up those dated-looking brown bits and adding darker sections for higher contract does a lot for this building. It’s a testament to how much something as simple as a slight color change can transform the look of a building — what once was a sort of awkward brown and beige mass now looks kinda good?
That fancy new skybridge, which safely ushers potentially hapless conventioneers from the hotel over the upcoming downtown station project for the MetroRail Red Line doesn’t hurt either. Be careful which hotels you call ugly in high school.
Hotel ZaZa / Gables Republic Square
Though its opening date is still a tiny bit of a mystery, genuine progress is taking place at 401 Guadalupe Street on the 24-story Hotel ZaZa and Gables Republic Square apartment tower. We recently saw the first hint of the old Ginger Man bar’s facade revived in the pleasing masonry walls of the new building, and now we’ve got an even better look — it appears this section will serve as an entrance to one of the hotel’s bars, Perfect Strangers.
While we’re looking at signs, we noticed the entrance for the Gables side of the building has also recently received its branding:
Someday we’re hoping we’ll get a look at the inside of this thing, but the outside’s already pretty cool. Do you think this building took what feels like a million years to build because its developers insisted on using brick? I mean, it looks great, so the hassle was worth it, but can you imagine choosing to deal with that instead of just slapping up some glass and steel? Brave, brave folks.
1801 East Sixth
Local developers Riverside Resources had a profitable week after selling its recently-completed East Austin office project at 1801 East Sixth Street to real estate asset management firm AEW, a subsidiary of enormous French investment outfit Natixis. The site’s appraised value is $44.4 million, but we don’t know the actual selling price — can’t imagine it would be any less than that.
Extended Stay America / 6 X Guadalupe
Whaddaya know — the Extended Stay America located at 600 Guadalupe Street is officially closed! That’s a good sign that demolition could kick off next month as predicted to clear the site for Austin’s next tallest tower, 6 X Guadalupe. We heard from a reliable source that all the decent furniture in the building went to Austin Habitat for Humanity, which is nice if you don’t think too hard about how hotel furniture gets treated. I hope they at least wiped it down with some bleach.
Sabine Street Promenade
The Sabine Street Promenade is coming along nicely near Waller Creek and cool buildings like Sabine on Fifth. There’s not much to report besides the above photo because it’s not completely finished, but it still looks good so far. Promenade is a fun word to say and a fun place to be.
Intelligentsia Coffee @ Third + Shoal
Last but not least, Austin’s Third + Shoal tower saw the opening of Intelligentsia Coffee earlier this month, a chain of celebrated “third wave” roasters originally from Chicago. This is the shop’s first location in Texas, so we’re flattered they thought of us. We stopped by earlier this week and we’re happy to report it’s run by some very nice folks, so check it out ASAP.