Ground’s finally broken on the Plaza Saltillo mixed-use development in East Austin. Woo! We’re heard about this project in various forms since 2014, but now it’s time to hurry up and wait — the estimated time to completion is about 30 months.
After all these years, we’ve kind of forgotten what’s even in store for the 10-acre site, so let’s catch up on this whole thing together. Plaza Saltillo was originally an outdoor courtyard and event space built in 1998, which was then partially converted to a station for the new MetroRail system in 2010.
Since the station opened, rumors pointed to a development on the way at the sprawling railyard located just west of the plaza. Capital Metro chose developer Endeavor Real Estate Group for the site in 2014, with plans describing a mixed-use complex with apartments, senior housing, and a full-sized grocery store.
Needless to say, a few things have changed since then. The most current plans for the development describe a complex of several buildings over six blocks, including 800 apartments, 141 of which will be designated for low-income tenants. That’s about 18 percent, down from the 25 percent target originally described in 2014.
The project also includes about 140,000 square feet of office space, much of which will be contained within an 8-story tower on the far west side of the site adjacent to the highway. Finally, about 100,000 square feet of retail space will be on-site, with a handful of presently unnamed restaurants included, along with public space and landscape improvements.
The debate’s continued for years over this project’s design, height, usage, you name it — even as recently as the beginning of this year. The most unfortunate loss from the original plans appears to be the grocery store component fronting the highway, which was supposed to go on the ground floor of the 8-story building that’s now seemingly entirely occupied by office space. Boo!
Of course, with several phases of construction described by the developer, this feature might reappear sometime down the road, but between this project and the unclear-but-not-promising description of the “market” component at the Block 87 development across the highway, it seems like the dream of just getting a straight up grocery store in this corner of downtown isn’t happening for a bit.