First announced back in the blissfully pre-pandemic 2019, the tower planned to replace two bars at 90 and 92 Rainey Street by a development team including Urbanspace Real Estate founder Kevin Burns and local design firms Nelsen Partners and dwg. has undergone a few twists and turns throughout the generalized turmoil of 2020 — members of the city’s Historic Landmark Commission reportedly “openly dislike” the project’s replacement of the early-1900s bungalow at 92 Rainey Street now serving as the district’s rather uncreatively-named bar Bungalow, voting to delay the project despite the 92 property lacking the historic integrity for landmark status.
The development is nevertheless in compliance with the other design guidelines necessary to move forward, but our latest look at the tower from a new density bonus program application scheduled for the City of Austin Design Commission’s December 21 meeting shows the proposal has undergone a fairly significant redesign. The project is now a 51-floor, 602-foot building with a tweaked exterior appearance, but perhaps more importantly has lost its previously-announced hotel component, now planned simply as a 446-unit residential tower with about 12,000 square feet of retail.
Shown off with the official name of 9092 Rainey, the structure has leveled up its external appearance in our book — it appears its designers at Nelsen Partners are using darker materials overall compared to previous renderings, particularly in its slate-colored crown, and its exterior texture is completely different due to the tower’s more notable balcony articulations, a result of the switch to full residential use. There’s also a pretty substantial green wall climbing up its podium section. All of these features will rhyme nicely with the nearby 70 Rainey, except this project is a lot taller — while a little boxy, it’s going to seriously beef up the Rainey District’s skyline.
In addition to its cosmetic and use changes, this new iteration of the tower appears to be including 14,008 square feet of on-site affordable housing, with an additional $1.29 million fee-in-lieu payment to the city’s affordable housing program. Haters of overwhelming parking podiums should be delighted to learn that despite its high unit count, the project’s developers say the tower will include “substantially reduced” parking at only 267 spaces — seemingly an acknowledgement that many residents of the Rainey Street District aren’t necessarily arriving with cars. It’s about time.
As shown in these plans, the 12,000 square feet of retail space in the building will be split between accommodation for the displaced Container Bar and Bungalow, though it’s unclear right now if any of the actual bungalow structure will be preserved — it appears Container Bar will occupy the tower’s ground floor, while Bungalow will occupy a basement level one floor below the street. Early plans for the building showed the original Bungalow house wedged into the side of the new tower one floor up, which was admirably weird — and though the developers could reassemble part of the house in that basement space, it’s still pretty unclear what’s going on here. We’ll hopefully find out more at next week’s meeting.