The Sixth and Chicon apartment project under construction in one of East Austin’s densest neighborhoods at 1812 East Sixth Street celebrated its topping out last week, a major construction milestone for general contractors Cadence McShane considering the building only broke ground earlier this year, with completion expected in summer 2023. The six-story building’s “micro-housing” design by local architecture firm Mark Odom Studio places 60 apartments averaging 355 square feet in size on a quarter-acre property, with individual units ranging from 252 to 465 square feet.
According to its Austin-based developers Watershed Development Group, the project is made possible by its location in the Plaza Saltillo Transit-Oriented Development District, a special planning area that relaxes typical restrictions of the city’s land development code to allow for smaller units and much less parking than would typically be required under our famously clunky 1980s zoning — the Sixth and Chicon building’s 60 apartments are accompanied by a mere 20 parking spaces, which makes this kind of project spatially possible on such a diminutive site.
Sixth and Chicon will be in walking distance to Plaza Saltillo Transit Oriented Development, giving residents easy access to Austin’s public transportation system. At full buildout, the property will span six floors featuring modern amenities including multiple co-working spaces, individualized workout rooms on each level, multiple community kitchens and outdoor spaces including a rooftop patio, all with fantastic views to Downtown Austin.
— Watershed Development Group
Even though it’s smaller than many of the residential projects we celebrate on this site, we’re firmly on board with the Sixth and Chicon building in particular due to its relative rarity in Austin’s world of parking-heavy “Texas Donut” apartment schemes — it’s a type of design that boosts the idea of urban living in this area by encouraging its residents to walk or use alternative transit instead of driving, and it’s small enough to fit on properties that could never host a more imposing residential project. (You might want to note that at roughly a quarter-acre, the Sixth and Chicon property is about the size of only two single-family home lots under our current zoning requirements.)
But the rarity of the project is due to its location in the transit-adjacent Saltillo District we mentioned earlier, which means the building foreshadows a larger opportunity. We’re looking ahead to many difficult years of transit construction as Project Connect works to link the city against all odds, meaning someday there will be a lot more rail stations standing within walking distance of a lot more properties capable of hosting a building like Sixth and Chicon, since the project would fit perfectly in almost any reasonably walkable neighborhood with transit access. It’s exactly the kind of infill housing that ought to be legal to build on small tracts in any neighborhood adjacent to a Project Connect transit station, and we’re looking forward to seeing many more buildings just like this take shape in tomorrow’s Austin.