The 15-story tower project announced last year on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake by New York-based development firm the Related Companies will no longer contain approximately 475,000 square feet of office space, according to a set of design development documents for the site dating back to a little more than a month ago. Instead, the building known as One Lady Bird Lake is now planned by its developers as a 17-story residential tower containing a mix of apartment and condo units, along with nearly 14,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the first two floors of the structure and three levels of underground parking.
The project will rise atop a 3.3-acre property in the South Central Waterfront planning area that currently serves as a parking lot for the Hyatt Regency Austin hotel located at 208 Barton Springs Road — an unusual site just east of the South First Street bridge and Butler Shores park that you might never notice if you aren’t visiting the hotel.
While the look of the building by prominent New York architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox has changed radically from its original design as an office structure, the project’s link to the waterfront remains — although it’s still unclear precisely how the Related Companies will be involved, renderings of the building in its previous office format from last year and the new residential plan both prominently display a boardwalk structure connected to the Hike-and-Bike Trail in front of the tower.
When the building was announced last year, Related executives told the Austin American-Statesman that the firm was “…working with relevant parties in regards to waterfront improvements for One Ladybird Lake.” Now we know the most relevant party in question is none other than the Texas Department of Transportation, which has committed to building a $25 million boardwalk structure through this area to compensate for parkland lost as part of the widening of I-35 through Central Austin.
The project’s unusual mix of apartments and condominium units will bring a total of 293 new residences to the lakefront, with the condo units situated in the building’s western wing closest to the shoreline. Although the design of the structure is still in progress and likely subject to further change, the unit counts for the plan indicate approximately 86 condo residences and 207 apartments.
It’s unclear if the other South Austin office project announced by the Related Companies last year will move forward as planned, but One Lady Bird Lake’s pivot from office to residential use is a pretty in-your-face market signal about the relative health of these local asset classes. It’s the most major Austin office project to undergo this sort of switch so far, but with local office space vacancies reaching a record high this summer, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar transformation for other office-heavy proposals near downtown. Either way, it’s a whole lot better than a parking lot!