A six-story “micro-housing” apartment project by local commercial real estate firm Watershed Development Group has officially broken ground in East Austin, bringing 60 residences to an approximately quarter-acre site at 1812 East Sixth Street. This 34,364-square-foot building, named Sixth and Chicon after the nearby intersection, features apartments ranging from 252 to 465 square feet in size — overall, the average size of a unit here is only 355 square feet.
Designed by acclaimed local architects Mark Odom Studio, the developer describes the community as an ideal home for the “urban minimalist,” enabled by its location in what’s most likely East Austin’s single most walkable district and only minutes away from the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station — with that proximity in mind, the project also features reduced parking at only 19 spaces, which is music to our ears.
To enhance the living experience of its micro-units, the building includes multiple co-working spaces, individual workout rooms on each level, communal kitchens, and outdoor amenities including a rooftop patio. It’s one of many multifamily projects in Austin embracing a philosophy of shared amenities alongside smaller apartments, with increasing demand for these communities in prime locations where walkable lifestyle factors like nearby bars and restaurants take priority over large living spaces.
“Our design team worked masterfully to understand and execute this project using some specialized ordinances and land development code provisions allowing for smaller units and much less parking than would normally be required anywhere else in Austin . . . We believe that building housing in submarkets with a rich offering of walkable lifestyle amenities helps to activate the public spaces, support our local merchants, and increases the utilization of public transportation, all of which add to the vibrancy of our great city.”
— Nathan Vargo, Founder, Watershed Development Group
Even if you don’t embody the target lifestyle for its diminutive square footages, the project’s size, unit count, and reduced parking together represent an inspiring example of dense infill housing — with 60 residences on a quarter-acre site, we’re talking about an approximate density of 240 units per acre, closer to what you’d expect from a significantly taller residential building. Compare this project to the minimum lot size of 5,750 square feet required for single-family residences under Austin’s overwhelmingly common SF-3 zoning category and you’ll notice that this site’s square footage of 0.26 acres would fit only two homes in another neighborhood.
The site was previously home to celebrated East Side barbershop Dan’s Hair Styling, where owner Dan Ojeda Sr. celebrated his 50th year cutting hair in 2012 — for the record, he’s still going strong out of a new location at 3511 East Seventh Street. Alongside Watershed and Mark Odom Studio, the project’s development team includes general contractors Cadence McShane Construction, with engineering work by firms Civilitude, Leap!Structures, and Nichols Engineering. According to the developers, Sixth and Chicon is currently scheduled for completion by summer 2023.