A mixed-use redevelopment is currently in the planning stages at South Austin’s longtime Twin Oaks Shopping Center, according to a site plan filed with the city earlier this week. Located at 2315 South Congress Avenue, this midcentury strip mall has been owned since 2016 by beloved Texan grocers H-E-B, acquired as part of its redevelopment strategy for the H-E-B location at the southwest corner of South Congress Avenue and Oltorf Street — Twin Oaks is located at the northeast corner of the same intersection, and currently houses a temporary H-E-B store while the firm rebuilds the main store at roughly twice the size of the original.
With this bigger and better South Congress H-E-B expected to open in 2024, the future of the Twin Oaks center is unclear, but the grocer indicated back at the time of its purchase in 2016 that reimagining the shopping center could be the next step:
While HEB said in an email response that it has “no current plans for redevelopment at this time,” it suggested the property could be used to enhance its store at 2400 S. Congress Ave., which is catty-corner to the Twin Oaks Shopping Center.
The “unique land acquisition opportunity provides H-E-B additional flexibility as the company considers long-term growth options for HEB’s South Congress store, one of the company’s oldest and most beloved stores in Austin,” the company said.
The retailer said it will honor the lease terms for the current tenants at Twin Oaks.
This week’s permit, filed on behalf of the property’s owners by local engineering firm GarzaEMC, simply describes the proposal as a mixed-use development of the approximately 10-acre Twin Oaks site, with no other details included at the moment. However, other city permits filed over roughly the last year for the same property include a land status determination, city arborist assessment, and a traffic study — together, these filings appear to indicate the first steps of what could be a major redevelopment at the Twin Oaks site, although we don’t know the finer points yet.
With representatives of H-E-B firmly unavailable for comment, there’s room for some idle speculation on what’s going on here. If we were putting money on the possibilities of a mixed-use redevelopment at this site, we’d bet our bottom dollar on the involvement of Barshop & Oles, the Texan developer most associated with new H-E-B centers in the region — but more importantly, also the developer behind the mixed-use reimagining of the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center, which should take a low-rise South Austin strip mall not unlike Twin Oaks to new heights in the near future.
We like that project so much, we’ve coined the term “Brodie Oaksification” to describe the process of transforming Austin’s legacy strip malls into walkable mixed-use projects, preferably with lots of open space and affordable housing enabled by taller buildings. Although the 10-acre Twin Oaks site is a fraction of the size of Brodie Oaks, this space could still contain a substantial planned development working in harmony with the modernized H-E-B store across the intersection — if built with residential and retail uses, the land’s owners at H-E-B could essentially oversee the creation of a recognizable new South Austin district from scratch, especially keeping in mind that the scaled-back first phase of Project Connect should build its southernmost rail station at this intersection sometime in the next decade. Of course, none of this is confirmed at the moment, so we’re just having fun connecting some very small dots.