Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission approved the demolition of five adjacent buildings in downtown northwest of the Capitol at its meeting earlier this week, representing another step forward for a reported hotel tower project at the site from a partnership between local firms Sabot Development and Twin Crest Capital.
The site is an approximately 0.42-acre assembly of four neighboring properties including 1304 and 1308 Lavaca Street; and 301 and 303 West 14th Street, comprising the southwest corner of Lavaca and West 14th Streets. The assembly is currently occupied by five structures built between roughly 1880 and 1965, but research by city staff and the unanimous vote of the commission agreed that none of these structures contained significant merit for historic zoning.
The two most notable buildings at this assembly are the heavily-modified dwelling at 1304 Lavaca Street used for much of its life as a retail store, which city staff estimate could date back to the early 1880s; along with the 1940s-era Magnolia/Mobilgas gas station with a fetching rounded canopy and red trim common to auto service facilities of the midcentury era at 1308 Lavaca Street.
Though other gas stations from this era have seen adaptive reuse projects for different retail uses, this particular facility has not retained sufficient integrity over many years of adaptations and vacancy for the HLC to support any preservation efforts.
The 1953 midcentury commercial building at 301 West 14th Street and the 1925 Craftsman-style bungalow at 303 West 14th Street, while in somewhat better condition than the Lavaca Street properties as you can see in the street view of both properties above, also lack preservation merit and will be demolished as well.
Once the site is cleared, its owners at Sabot and Twin Crest can pursue development plans for the site, most recently announced as a 12-story, 192-room hotel tower — though it’s worth pointing out the promotional rendering of the project from the locals at Kirksey Architecture actually seems to show an approximately 16-story building, so who knows? Anyway, the site’s current entitlements allow a 210,000-square-foot building of up to 165 feet in height, which isn’t bad considering its proximity to our deeply acrophobic Capitol dome.
This isn’t the first plan for replacing the buildings on this corner, some of which have sat vacant for more than a decade. In 2009, Texas development firm Palmco announced a 12-story office project known as Capitol Terrace, which would also provide live-work space for lobbyists and whatnot with 30 apartment units. This one seemingly didn’t make it out of the 2010s alive — and more than a decade later, we’ll just have to wait and see if a hotel is the next step for this currently-dead corner.