Since we consider ourselves the vanguards of building name and building color-related media coverage in the downtown area, it’s our pleasure to bring you another late-breaking dispatch regarding the branding of the 15-floor, 387-unit East Austin apartment tower developed by Lennar Multifamily Communities and JH West 12th Street Partners, now rapidly approaching completion at a former bingo hall between East 11th and East 12th Streets along I-35 and thus saddled with the deeply clunky official address of 1109 North I-35 Frontage Road — it’s called “The Avenir” now.
Previously known as One Two East, then the Huston after an unfortunate height downgrade, then the Dorsey for reasons unknown during its construction, this oft-controversial tower sails toward the finish line under the Avenir name, which is best known to us as one of the best geometric sans-serif typefaces on the market but actually means “the future” in French. And you really couldn’t pick a better name — Austin’s future, at least the one that’s unfolded over the last decade or so, is captured pretty well by a development that initially sought to include a 60,000-square-foot grocery store and senior housing alongside its apartment units in exchange for 35 feet of additional height by way of a zoning change, but removed these elements and built a shorter tower after encountering intense resistance from nearby homeowners.
We don’t mean to rag on the final product — the Avenir’s brick-tinged design from Dallas firm GDA Architects has come out looking extremely handsome, especially in concert with GDA’s similar masonry look for the Alexan Waterloo apartment tower directly across the highway, and more high-rise market-rate housing in the downtown area is absolutely a good thing. It’s just disappointing to know which walkable amenities we lost along the way, which would have made great additions to the surrounding neighborhood if people living here hadn’t fought so hard against them. Who thinks lowering the building by 35 feet is preferable to a full-sized grocery store?
In any case, the building that’s here now is currently accepting inquiries regarding pricing and unit availability according to the community’s website, with a possible opening date later this summer. The Avenir features a mix of studio, one, and two-bedroom apartments marketed with the bold claim of “more lifestyle amenities than any other residential offering in the city,” according to its developers at LMC — meaning two pools, a rooftop clubhouse, a co-working space, dog park, indoor basketball court, music room, and “artist studio,” among other things. (But is there a golf simulator, like Alexan Waterloo across the street? We’re happy to fact-check this.)
Like the Tyndall condos before it, this project takes advantage of the highway divide to deliver housing seconds from downtown but likely a touch more affordable than downtown proper — we have to imagine the land itself cost a bit less too, if only just. Though I-35 remains a scar across our urban fabric begging for a fistful of band-aids, we appreciate what this type of density will bring to the surrounding area even across the highway, especially with projects like Waterloo Park and its surrounding developments poised to make the Avenir one bridge-crossing away from an exciting new district — plus the fact that living here puts you next door to Franklin Barbecue doesn’t hurt.