The Republic, a 37-story office tower project, is finally taking shape at the downtown Austin block bordered by West Third, San Antonio, West Fourth, and Guadalupe Streets. The 1.77-acre site, referred to in various filings and news items as either 401 West Fourth Street or 308 Guadalupe Street, is currently occupied by only a parking lot — and it’s one of the last remaining empty downtown blocks unencumbered by a Capitol View Corridor.
Owned by Travis County and now leased to a joint venture of developers Lincoln Property Company and Phoenix Property Company, there’s been a good bit of intrigue regarding the future of this site, not to mention a laundry list of unrealized projects. Republic Square Park’s renovation just north of the block has only amped up the speculation — would a potential tower development across the street do anything to compliment the park, like we saw in the unused designs by Gensler?
After all this mystery, it was nice to see a story back in May revealing our first glimpse of the proposed Republic project’s design by Duda/Paine Architects, best known around town as the folks behind the look of the Frost Bank Tower. But new documents filed with the city as part of the building’s application to the Downtown Density Bonus Program give us a better look at the design of the tower than ever before — so let’s jump right in and see what we’re getting.
Here’s the Republic, in all its glory. Yeah, the design looks more than a little familiar, but it’s still a nice addition to the skyline. Plus, as you can see from these renderings, there’s a lot of open space, with two outdoor deck areas — one placed atop the parking podium section of the tower, and another higher up on its eastern side. Included in these documents are renderings of each of those decks — the first image below is the view from the higher deck looking south, with the second and third image giving us views of the lower and larger amenity deck atop the parking podium, which appears to wrap around the building on three sides:
The tower, at least in my opinion, looks best from the south — though its exterior color beyond just “bluish silver” is slightly hard to pin down based on renderings alone, it appears its crown lighting will give it a boost in terms of looks, as you can sorta see in the first rendering below:
I could just post renderings all day, but let’s take a second to run over all the details laid out in these documents. As we said earlier, it’s a 37-story building, but clocks in at 586 feet tall thanks to its large crown. That’s 44 feet higher than the Block 71 office project I see lots of similarities with, and 70 feet more than Duda/Paine’s previous Frost Bank Tower project. Despite some old rumors about potential residential units, the building as described here is completely comprised of office and retail space — 687,471 square feet and 19,423 square feet of each, respectively.
There’s also 13 levels of parking, with 1,644 parking spaces in all. I’m slightly let down by the visibility of the building’s parking podium, especially when other upcoming tower projects around town manage to integrate this feature fairly well — but considering Duda/Paine’s other project on the way in Austin, I guess they might not be interested in hiding parking garages.
As part of the density bonus program, the tower is hoping to receive an FAR of 9.15:1, up from the previous maximum of 8:1. Along with the gatekeeper requirements of the program, which include Great Streets-compliant improvements to the streetscape surrounding the building and a minimum two-star rating with Austin Energy’s Green Building program, the project’s design incorporates a large public plaza on the north end of the block adjacent to Republic Square Park:
Renderings of the plaza, its connection to the park across the street, and other outdoor spaces on the ground level of the tower are heavily featured in these documents:
Here’s a diagram of the building’s ground floor that gives a better idea of how everything’s oriented, with what appears to be most or all of the tower’s retail space situated here — likely restaurant usage, to take full advantage of the outdoor plaza seating and such:
It’s all very good-looking and certainly an improvement over the parking lot that’s there now. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the city wouldn’t consider closing to traffic the section of Fourth Street that splits this block from Republic Square:
If we could connect the outdoor plaza space of the Republic tower to its adjacent park, without an active street running through the middle, we’d have ourselves a pretty fantastic public space — I realize it’s not as easy as it sounds, but wouldn’t it be a nice place to park food trucks?