The 39-story tower planned by local developer LV Collective at the one-acre former site of a state pension fund office near the corner of East 12th and Sabine Streets in downtown’s emerging Innovation District shows up in the City of Austin’s permit system as a hotel, but that’s not exactly right. It doesn’t seem like anyone’s agreed on a satisfying term for the growing concept of a rental building potentially containing furnished and unfurnished units, offering both short-term (one day) and long-term (one year) stays with concierge services and other features straddling the line between residential and hotel-style amenities — it’s not Natiivo, since the units aren’t purchased by individual investors, and it’s not the Guild, since the tower is purpose-built rather than a percentage of units in an existing building.
It’s also not a timeshare and not quite an extended-stay hotel, but the old-school notion of an “apartment hotel” comes close. The developers at LV Collective prefer something like “experiential living” or “flexible living,” a 527-unit building that can adapt to the short and long-term residential needs of the future professionals, tourists, students, and everyone else attracted to the Innovation District once it’s built out with numerous life sciences and biomedical uses along with Dell Medical School — and under the city’s creaky old code, this sort of business model is practically impossible in a building developed under a residential use, with limitations on short-term rentals and other requirements locking down that flexibility.
The closest local comparison is something like Sentral, which offers furnished and unfurnished apartments out of a full building on East Sixth Street for short and long-term stays. (For the record, it doesn’t look like Sentral knows exactly how to describe this business model either, using the deeply unsatisfying term “Home+.”) Looking at this situation from a hype-based perspective, we think it boils down to Airbnb becoming uncool and hotels becoming cool again, but the hotels are now taking cues from the good parts of Airbnb. Anyway, it makes a lot of sense to keep your options open when you look at the potential of the Innovation District, with something like five different towers in various stages of development near the new Waterloo Park.
While the details of the project remain mostly up in the air, the unnamed tower at 12th and Sabine will contain ground-floor retail including a full-service coffee bar, a co-working space, bike storage, a gym and yoga studio, and amenity decks on the ninth and 38th floors. The project’s architects are local firm STG Design, and while we only have a single rendering of the tower for now, the building’s unique roofline and light exterior are a welcome addition to a district with a lot of interesting colors on the horizon. One feature of the building is a lot more like a residential tower than a hotel — its seven-floor garage podium with 547 parking spaces. The project’s groundbreaking date is currently unknown, but LV Collective indicates a scheduled completion date sometime in 2026. We’ll see if we can come up with a snappy term to describe it by then, hopefully something better than “Flexitel.”