New city filings for the mixed-use project at Block 87, one of Austin’s final undeveloped blocks downtown, shed a bit more light on the future of the Episcopal Church-owned parking lot at Seventh and Trinity Streets. The development by Cielo Property Group, which is currently known as “Episcopal Archives” in city filings, will in fact host the church’s substantial historical archives — but the structure has a lot more going on than that.
Per the new site info filed with the city, we now know the planned building’s uses and some allocations of square footage on the 1.75 acre tract of the block:
- 280 condo units
- 260 hotel rooms
- 182,328 square feet of office space
- two restaurant spaces adding up to a combined total of 8,200 square feet
- 27,109 square feet of “supermarket” space
We knew a lot of this already, but what’s got us excited about this project is the confirmation that some type of market component is part of the plan. With other residential projects on the way for this general region of the city, we’re in desperate need of grocery options.
It’s completely idle speculation at this point, but it’s worth noting that the smaller-concept Target store planned for the Dobie Mall is 22,000 square feet in size, while the Whole Foods 365 location that just celebrated its grand opening in Cedar Park is 30,000 square feet. Of course, H-E-B has also recently experimented with smaller-format markets designed for urban centers — it would certainly make a lot of sense to break into the Austin market in this neglected corner of downtown.
One final question that seems to appear every time this project gets mentioned is the ongoing issue of the area’s substantial homeless presence, due to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) and Caritas relief center located across the street from the site.
With resources simply unavailable for a good portion of the massive at-risk population in the area, many remain on the corners and sidewalks outside the buildings day and night — leading to possibly the densest concentration of human misery anywhere in the city, and a situation that’s potentially unsafe for others in the area. Any development at the site will have zero chance of ignoring these challenges, and it’s fair to assume that the project will reignite the ongoing discussion over potentially relocating the services of the ARCH elsewhere.
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