Today, we’re taking a peek at some downtown Austin projects in the early planning stages — so early, in fact, that we don’t have many details or images for most of them, though we can make plenty of educated guesses and maybe one of those “green box” massings we love so much, meaning you’ll at least have something to look at. You might consider these the buildings “they” don’t want you to know about, which isn’t really true but makes this whole thing so much more mysterious. Let’s roll:
203 West 10th Street
A fairly literal stone’s throw from the Texas Governor’s Mansion, the headquarters of the Texas Bankers Association occupies a well-situated .56-acre tract at the corner of West 10th and Lavaca Streets. We’ve seen rumblings of potential growth at this site for a couple of years now, and recent city utility filings describe an upcoming but unknown development in the very early planning stages for the address.
The site, though sporting a height-friendly CBD zoning, is partially restricted by the Capitol View Corridors passing over the property, and it’s actually so close to the Texas State Capitol itself that there’s a secondary limitation known as the Capitol Dominance Overlay to worry about — but a corner of the site narrowly escapes both of these restrictions, meaning a very slim tower angled to avoid the view corridors like we’ve seen in several recent and upcoming downtown projects is totally possible:
Keeping the constraints of the site in mind, we’d love to see a building here similar in design to the view corridor-dodging Block 87 project imagined on the other side of town. Though the potential height of a tower in the small unrestricted section of the property is uncertain, we’ve massed a roughly 30-story building within this area to give you an idea of what could be possible, assuming the unknown developer of this project wants to maximize the land’s value in an extremely visible way:
Of course, we can’t rule out a less exciting height — this corner of downtown, though it’s growing all the time, is still friendly to smaller projects. Further evidence that the mystery building at this location might not reach for the sky is found in the most recent pre-development utility documents for the address submitted by engineering firm Kimley-Horn, which include a filename seemingly referencing local real estate development firm D2000. A quick glance at that company’s portfolio shows a focus on smaller buildings, though there’s always a first time for everything.
400 West 14th Street
Like one of those Magic Eye pictures, if you relax your eyes and stare at the array of recent pre-development filings for the .59-acre tract at 400 West 14th Street long enough you’ll start to see the vague outline of a tower — actually, the latest documents related to the future of this property come right out and call it a “mixed-use high-rise,” which certainly helps the accuracy of our predictions.
Comprising a bit less than half a block at the northwest corner of 14th and Guadalupe Streets, the site’s currently home to police union organization CLEAT, but that could change sometime soon — per a site plan filed early last month, local development firm Cypress Real Estate Advisors hopes to build an office building here, potentially with some sort of retail space given the “mixed-use” phrase used in earlier filings.
Though its expected height is unknown, the site falls outside any view corridor restrictions, and is within the boundaries of the Downtown Density Bonus Program, meaning a tower of some size is completely possible here. Representatives for Cypress confirm a project is in the planning stages at this address, but can’t provide any further details for the time being — and that’s fair, since at such an early stage they’re probably still figuring out some of those details for themselves.
1604 West Fifth Street
Last and hopefully not least considering its location, the development planned at the roughly .53-acre assembly of adjacent properties at 1604 and 1608 West Fifth Street is technically outside of downtown Austin proper, with its 78703 ZIP code and such — but it’s still a pretty short jaunt from here to the central city, and we think this section of West Fifth Street is long overdue for some new projects, unless for some bizarre reason you’re a big fan of its multiple public storage facilities.
The 1604 and 1608 addresses currently contain the closed remains of a drive-through BBVA Compass bank and ATM, but that stuff probably won’t stick around much longer. Earlier this year, the two properties were purchased from the bank by a recently-incorporated LLC associated with local development group Manifold Real Estate and its principal Tyler Grooms, with city site plan documents filed late last month describing plans for an office development with underground parking.
That’s quite literally all we know for now on this project, but it’s worth pointing out that its location next door to legendary dive bar Donn’s Depot will probably spook some locals. We think the folks at Manifold are sharp enough to recognize the value of this institution — in fact, they might consider the bar a pretty cool amenity for their prospective office tenants — but from a public relations perspective, it would be smart to reassure everyone from the beginning that this new building won’t impact the bar’s hopefully long and prosperous future. As always, my inbox is wide open.