It turned out to be quite a news week for downtown Austin development, so let’s shotgun some stories real quick and feel extremely informed. Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell strangers on the street — the towers are coming, and some of them are pretty neat. We put the neatest one first:
Block 185 Arrives in Style
Probably the biggest tower news this week broke yesterday, courtesy of the Austin Business Journal — which also had a very good week, news-wise. We’ve already seen drawings of the sail-shaped 35-floor office tower destined for the final undeveloped block of the Green Water Treatment Plant redevelopment at 601 West Second Street, known only for now as Block 185, but yesterday’s story included the first true rendering we’ve seen of the building, courtesy of a “marketing brochure” the article conspicuously does not explain the source of — and it’s a beauty, with design courtesy of “starchitects” Pelli Clarke Pelli:
The article continues with some informed speculation about the possibilities of a large tech company leasing most or all of the tower’s office space — Google’s heavily rumored, but there are plenty of candidates who might like to put their shingle up in what appears to be a true new “signature tower” for downtown. We’ll probably get our hands on additional renderings of this tower sooner rather than later, and though we’ve waited patiently, it’s nice to finally see a project with this kind of design vision in Austin’s near future.
A Whole Whole Foods at Plaza Saltillo
After learning that Whole Foods planned to discontinue development of its lower-priced 365 grocery stores, we started wondering what the hell that meant for Plaza Saltillo, where 365 was announced as an anchor tenant last year. We didn’t have to wait long for the answer — the space will become a regular Whole Foods store instead. That’s good news, but it means our wait for a downtown H-E-B must continue, patiently, and seemingly forever.
48 East Gets Fenced
Bear with me, I forgot to snap a picture, but construction fences went up around the office building currently at 48 East Avenue earlier this week, with city permits indicating its demolition has been approved. A 33-story condo tower is planned at the site by developer Pearlstone Partners.
Though I was a little concerned Airbnb would send some goons to whack me after the article we did earlier this month about the strong possibility of the project becoming a Niido (Powered by Airbnb) “homesharing” community, we haven’t heard a peep. Still, development — or, more accurately, demolition to make way for a development — is clearly ramping up over here, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out if I’m right.
There are two significant pits in downtown Austin at the moment, one at the Block 71 office tower site and the other at Fifth and Brazos Streets where we will enjoy two hotels and some other nice stuff. We’re used to the pit at Block 71, but you’d be surprised how far they’ve already dug down at Fifth and Brazos. Here are photos of them both — they are my strong pit boys, and I love them:
70 Rainey Has a Bar
This has somehow stayed under the radar until now, but at the end of last year, Dallas cocktail bar The Tipsy Alchemist (quite a name) announced it was headed to Rainey Street, seemingly as one of the restaurant/bar components of the almost-finished 70 Rainey condo tower, judging by the image used:
As far as I can tell, the bar does a bunch of wacky mad scientist drinks with dry ice and test tubes and stuff, kind of like what they do with the punch at Halloween parties. They also do that thing where they serve drinks out of what looks like a light bulb, which I suppose is better than using one as a pipe with which to smoke methamphetamine. 70 Rainey, by the way, is a pretty nice building.
I Don’t Understand This Mermaid Photoshoot
This might not be news to you if you’re a big mermaid fan, but I only just now stumbled across the fact that downtown’s Westin hotel offers a “Mermaid Package” where they take photos of you in their swimming pool dressed as a mermaid.
Bring out your inner child when you take a mermaid lesson, wear a sparkly tail and enjoy a private underwater photo shoot.— Marriott / Westin Site
Real mermaid fans know the only lesson you need is how to lure sailors to their deaths. The rest, that’s just posing.