The Avenue Lofts, a 38-unit downtown Austin condo community at 410 East Fifth Street, is being marketed for sale. According to a listing from commercial real estate investors CBRE, the owner’s association of the building has retained the firm as the property’s exclusive marketing agent, with a possible major tower redevelopment of the 0.81-acre property highlighted in marketing materials for the address.
CBRE, Inc. has been retained by ownership as the exclusive marketing agent for Avenue Lofts. This 38-unit condominium property located at East 5th Street and Trinity Street provides tremendous redevelopment potential. The site encompasses a half city block and totals approximately 35,328 square feet in the dynamic Austin Central Business District. With no height limits and a max potential FAR of 25:1, a building up to 883,200 square feet could be developed on the site. Additionally, the parks and historic buildings surrounding the asset provide unique protections to the view corridors that will define the redevelopment.
The purchase of Avenue Lofts would mark the fourth major buyout of an established downtown Austin condo community with the potential for significantly higher-density development within the last few years, joining nearby transactions at the Villas on Town Lake, the Railyard condos, and Brazos Lofts.
Marketing information prepared for the listing by CBRE illustrates the development potential of this site by mocking up several tower concepts — one in the slide above, and another design in the slide below — that could be built here under the current maximum entitlements of the city’s Downtown Density Bonus Program.
According to data provided in these promotional materials for the property, a hypothetical new tower development at the Avenue Lofts site could contain a maximum gross square footage of 883,200 square feet, with no Capitol View Corridor restrictions to limit height at the address. The concept tower seen in the slide above is a 54-story mixed-use office and multifamily residential structure.
Particularly notable is the site’s direct proximity to the newly-opened downtown MetroRail Station near Brush Square — also set to receive some upgrades of its own in the near future — not to mention the city’s ongoing growth saga at the Austin Convention Center a block away, a plan that seems inclined to negotiate with private developers on the major expansion of its district. No asking price is listed for the address, but considering the potentially record-setting $104 million sale of nearby condo community the Railyard to Los Angeles investment firm Karlin Real Estate in 2019, this property definitely won’t come cheap.
The five-story Avenue Lofts building was originally constructed as an office and laboratory facility for the Texas State Department of Health in 1943, helped along by a $135,000 Public Works Administration grant secured through the legendary efforts of then-Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson — and in keeping with the common Art Deco-adjacent architectural themes of the Depression-era style aptly named PWA Moderne, the building’s subtle ornamentation and monumental curved main entrance are a wonderful compliment to the similarly-designed and New Deal-financed downtown fire station just across the street at Brush Square.
The offices were purchased from the state by development firm the Sutton Company in the late 1990s, undergoing a $6 million conversion to a condo community overseen by Austin architect Charles Fisk. Since they fit so well with the design of the original building, people tend to forget that Fisk added those round “porthole” windows near the entrance — you can see they aren’t present in the photo above.
We’ve unapologetic fans of the Avenue Lofts’ uncommon architecture and fascinating backstory, so we’ll be sad to see it go if the site is eventually redeveloped, but it’s hard to argue with the potential of the site for a vastly higher-density development befitting its location and the value of its land. Just like the Railyard site’s hypothetical sky-high twin towers, we know they’re just concepts, but both of the towers imagined in CBRE’s renderings would be wonderful additions to the skyline — the stepped-back facades both look a little Art Deco-inspired in their own right, don’t they?