The redevelopment of the Grant Plaza office complex at 611 East Sixth Street, occupying a full block at the far eastern end of what’s considered Sixth Street’s famous strip of shot bars, represents an opportunity for something new in downtown’s most troubled district — but we underestimated just how drastically the site’s owners at New York-based firm Empire Square Group are shifting gears.
The latest plans reviewed by the city for the 1.74-acre site describe an approximately 259-unit multifamily residential project known for now as The Grant Building, containing ground-floor retail use and two levels of underground parking. The structure rises to a maximum height of 10 floors at the corner of East Sixth and Sabine Streets, and drops to a height of five floors on the rest of the block to avoid the multiple Capitol View Corridors passing over the site.
The building’s design by the recently-opened Austin office of global architecture firm Steinberg Hart, working with local landscape architecture studio dwg., includes nearly 8,000 square feet of retail at the ground level facing Sixth Street, described in the site plan as restaurant space. The rest of the building contains a mix of multifamily residences, including studios alongside one, two, and three-bedroom units.
A new residential building on this part of Sixth Street downtown is virtually unprecedented, at least in recent history — but the concept works almost suspiciously well with concurrent plans by local investors Stream Realty Partners to revitalize this district with more diverse growth and daytime business presence, intended to scare off its reputation for violent inebriation and little else.
Stream’s public discussion of concepts for the region touch on hotel and office use along with new space for dining, live music, and the arts, but the welcome surprise of residential growth here from another developer is just one more sign of local efforts to challenge the street’s current notoriety. We’re thrilled to see Grant Plaza’s owners taking the plunge, especially if this project is the first of many.