One of downtown Austin’s most long-delayed pieces of tower vaporware might finally take shape at a parking lot on the northeast corner of Fifth and Brazos Streets. We can say that fairly confidently based on nearly five years of renderings, news stories, and various city filings, but the smoking gun appears to be the imminent closure of the actual parking lot upon which the building is planned, which we only learned about last week:
The mysterious building known as Fifth & Brazos was first revealed way, way back in 2013 by Chicago-based firm Magellan Development Group, in partnership with Wanxiang America Real Estate Group. The initial announcement described the project as a mixed-use tower, with two hotels — you know, everyone’s doing the dual-branded thing now — plus residential units, along with retail on the ground floor.
The latest renderings of the tower can be found in the portfolio of its designer, the also-Chicago-based bKL Architecture, but you can see that even in these renderings, there’s some height discrepancies between them:
Since we’re going by filenames alone, the timeline isn’t completely reliable here — it’s just interesting to see the small changes these plans endure as they navigate the long path to actually getting built.
Rather than giving an exact number of floors back in 2013, the developers listed a range: between 35 and 50 stories tall. That’s a funny way to keep us guessing, but after multiple revisions to the plan over the years that slightly reduced its height each time, it’s looking like the tower might actually come in below the spread — the most current available plans show a 31-floor, 355-foot building. Still, it’s better than a parking lot!
Though the renderings paint a pretty murky picture, recent updates to the building’s site plan give us a better impression of what to expect. The elevations below, along with a cross-section of the building’s various sections and uses, are included in plan revisions dated June 2018 — and though things could easily change again, this is the latest info we’ve got, confirming the 355-foot height and what appears to be the slightly taller podium design, which according to the illustration includes a two-story hotel bar and large ballroom level:
These plans show five levels of underground parking with 383 spaces total, along with room for 480 bikes. That garage design is a welcome change from the above-ground parking podiums so many buildings around here disguise with varying degrees of success.
Though it’s unclear how the split will go down, the plan lists 438 rooms between the two hotels within the building, along with 297 residential units — 74 studios, 177 one-bedrooms, and 46 two-bedrooms. There’s also 12,748 square feet of restaurant/bar space, and 13,088 square feet of meeting/ballroom space — you can sorta see how it’s divided up in the cross-section up there.
Since we haven’t had any luck getting a response out of Magellan or Wanxiang, this info is all we’ve got to work with, but that’s not so bad — you guys like mysteries, right? The sudden closure of the parking lot at this site, though perhaps not as conclusive of an announcement of imminent groundbreaking as we’d prefer, is still more movement than we’ve seen on this project in the real world for a number of years, so now’s a great time to catch up. We’ll just be over here waiting patiently for an official announcement. Won’t you join us?