Ever since the closure and rezoning of the old Ecology Action recycling center in downtown Austin’s Red River Cultural District at 703 East Ninth Street, we’ve been following the trail of a planned mixed-use development for the location that teased the possibility of micro-housing units. Here’s what we knew last year:
Sackman Enterprises, which is also developing 70 Rainey, plans a restaurant, retail, micro-unit apartments, and below-grade parking garage on approximately 0.75 acres located at 701-703 East Ninth Street. Sackman recently filed utility relocation plans with City Hall, so the project is definitely a go. The property is currently being used as a construction staging area for the Waller Creek Tunnel project on the west half, so the project timeline is probably uncertain.
Judging from various filings associated with the project, we knew the city wouldn’t approve any development permits for the site until the completion of the Waller Creek Flood Control Tunnel — which means the tunnel’s exceptionally long development time must have represented a mildly irritating speed bump for the folks at Sackman.
Thankfully, the tunnel appears to be functioning in some capacity, if not officially complete just yet — and whaddaya know, a new application for the project was filed yesterday with the city. For the moment, the only current info we have from this recent filing, other than its display name of “East Ninth Street Multi-Family,” is this short description:
The applicant is proposing to demolish building and construct multi family builiding [sic] with ground floor retail, parking and associated improvements.
— City of Austin Permit SP-2017-0338C
That sentence concludes what we can learn simply from what was filed yesterday. The rest of what we know about plans for this building comes from city filings and site plans that date back to last year, so keep in mind we’re going into the weeds a bit here in terms of speculation.
For all we know, Sackman’s made serious changes to the building in the year since, and the building in this new filing could be completely different — but honestly, I doubt it. Judging by the material we’ve got here, I’m pretty confident that this is the building we’ll eventually see at the site. If I’m wrong, feel free to troll me in the comments even more than you feisty bunch already do. Hit it:
The mixed-use building described in a site plan from last year is a real beauty, designed by firm Michael Hsu Architecture, perhaps best known for the ultra-hip South Congress Hotel, though I’m partial to the P. Terry’s Mothership.
The building’s most striking detail is the can’t-miss angled geometry of its north and south elevations, designed to avoid my dear dear friend the Capitol View Corridor. I told you those things can lead to creative design!
It’s a five-story mixed-use building with a total square footage of 136,028, integrating micro-housing units, 7,836 square feet of restaurant space, a parking garage (some of which might be underground), and a limited number of two-story live-work spaces with streetscape access.
The number of units is a little unclear at the moment, with the 2016 plans giving a count of 152, and slightly newer documents throwing around the number 174 — that smaller number could be excluding live-work units from the count, but I’m not entirely sure.
Either way, these micro-units are the real deal — they’re all classified as efficiencies, and range from 369 to 531 square feet in size. It’s not the first micro-housing we’ve seen in the city, but as market rate housing goes it could be the most central in proximity to downtown, with most development of this variety going on further east.
Now that I’ve sprayed these plans all over your eyeballs, I’ve got to remind everyone again that this 2016 material could have changed a bit since then. But man, it’s hard not to get excited about the possibility of micro-housing hitting the downtown market.
I reached out to developer C.J. Sackman to see if he’d confirm any details regarding this project and its current status, and here’s his response in full:
“Micro housing” can be limiting when defining this product type. While Interior efficiency delivers cost-effective living, the environment outside a renters’ door delivers the lifestyle essential to this development. The combination of this downtown location, the design talents of Michael Hsu, and the beautification of Waller creek will culminate in a development that is as much about outside as within.
— C.J. Sackman
Sackman went on to confirm that the building’s slope as shown in these elevations is accurate, and designed to avoid the CVC over the site — but the jury’s still out on whether other details like the unit count and square footages are still accurate from the 2016 plans.
But hey, it’s better than a no. In fact, it’s almost a yes!