A warehouse building at the northwest corner of East Fourth and Onion Streets that’s served as the home of old-school East Austin roastery Texas Coffee Traders since the 1990s is bound for a six-story office and retail redevelopment by commercial real estate firm Stream Realty Partners, according to documents from an upcoming meeting of Austin’s Planning Commission.
The coffee company’s half-acre property at 1400 East Fourth Street, owned by Texas Coffee Traders founders R.C. and Beth Beall since 1999, is reportedly now under contract with Stream. Representatives of the firm will seek a zoning amendment for the site at the Planning Commission’s January 11 meeting to increase the base maximum height of a new development at this location from a total of 40 feet — or as high as 60 feet under the area’s density bonus program — to a new limit of 85 feet.
This increased height is typical of other nearby projects seeking to maximize their density inside the transit-oriented development district designated in the area surrounding the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station — and city staff indicate in their recommendation of the amendment that this address in particular is within 50 feet of the station, making its location particularly appropriate for a higher-density project. The site is also directly south of the completed Lance Armstrong Bikeway comprising this area’s stretch of the larger Red Line Parkway, a major dedicated bike and pedestrian corridor providing additional access to the site.
Current plans included in the zoning amendment application show the prospective office building, designed with some eye-catching (and increasingly popular) exterior curves by global architecture firm Perkins & Will, with an active streetscape design on all four sides enabled in part by an unknown amount of parking included in an subterranean garage accessed from East Fourth Street rather than above ground. The street-level design includes a 25-foot-wide public paseo allowing pedestrian access from north to south through the center of the site, with a restaurant space on the west end of the new building providing an outdoor deck and seating surrounding a preserved heritage pecan tree at the property.
Nearby stakeholders, including event space Distribution Hall and the Red Line Parkway Initiative, provided letters commenting on the case in preparation for its appearance before commissioners next week. Though generally supportive of the new building’s pedestrian-friendly design and density, it appears the street and pedestrian infrastructure in this area is still a work in progress, with speeding apparently a growing issue on East Fourth Street along with the incomplete status of the bikeway through the area presenting some safety hazards for cyclists. As the Saltillo District grows, these projects should encourage the city to continue its investment in this area’s future — after all, it doesn’t cost much to put down some speed bumps.