Austin commercial real estate firm Cielo Property Group now owns a full downtown block at Fourth and Brazos Streets in downtown Austin, with plans for two adjacent tower projects at the site containing a total of 1.6 million square feet, according to recent public records and a confirmation of the transaction from the developer.
Cielo previously executed a reported $55 million buyout of the Brazos Lofts property last year on the northern half of the block bound by East Fourth Street, East Fifth Street, Brazos Street, and San Jacinto Boulevard, and the company has now also purchased the 0.81-acre southern half of the block announced last year as the site of an apartment and office tower project by Chicago-based developers CA Ventures. Cielo will take over the development of that southern half-block, last occupied by downtown event venue Brazos Hall and a small office building, with new plans for an approximately 50-story, 750,000-square-foot office tower.
The firm expects to develop a second tower on the northern half of the block as part of a later phase, which would require the demolition of the current Brazos Lofts building. Cielo co-founder Bobby Dillard says the company does not yet have specific plans for the design or use of the northern tower, but that this half of the site could accommodate up to 886,200 square feet of new development.
“Downtown continues to lure marquee companies, but it’s difficult for many of these businesses to find office space large enough to meet their needs. By developing an entire city block, we can provide companies with more space, greater flexibility and unique onsite amenities that can be shared by the two buildings.”
— Bobby Dillard, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Cielo Property Group
The location of the Fourth and Brazos block is directly east of the Frost Bank Tower and adjacent to a number of expected future projects making the site particularly attractive for development — along with its proximity to the Austin Convention Center, the property is directly north of the Railyard Condos, which also saw a recent big-ticket buyout that could someday bring development to the twin condo tracts in the form of two significant new towers. Fourth Street, which runs along the southern end of the Cielo block, is expected to form the “spine” of downtown mobility upgrades for Project Connect, with a surface-level pedestrian mall atop an underground light rail concourse designed as a “transformational” cultural amenity likely representing a substantial benefit to any new project along this street.
The design of the first-phase office building at Fourth and Brazos remains an open question, though it’s a good bet the final product will look different than the previous CA Ventures version of the tower by Chicago architecture firm Goettsch Partners, as seen in the illustration above. According to Cielo, designs for the office tower are currently underway, with a focus on “green building, wellness, and cultural amenities” — the architect in question is currently unknown, though the developer has previously worked with several local design firms on past projects including Gensler Austin, Sixthriver Architects, and Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.
“Cielo plans to make this project our most innovative and impactful yet,” says Dillard. “We will continue to push the boundaries of sustainability, find ways to integrate more outdoor spaces throughout the building and provide ample opportunities for local artists to showcase their work.” The developer says it hopes to secure a site development permit for the first-phase tower project by early 2022.