As Austin real estate development pushes the boundaries of the “urban core”, it’s necessary to acknowledge that some of the most promising work from our city’s biggest developers isn’t always going up within a stone’s throw of the Capitol.
Despite some threats to vertical density on the east side of the highway, the writing’s on the wall for the future of downtown expansion — and the buzzwords appear to be “east,” “south,” “southeast,” and “please build more tall buildings before I have to move to a shantytown in Pflugerville.”
Here are a few projects we’re tracking, in no particular order.
SXSW Building – 1400 Lavaca Street
In a sea of beige boxes, the SXSW Building is a shot to the heart. Its wavy charm might be a little futuristic by way of 1995, but at least they’re doing something — and 12 stories ain’t bad either. Look at all that green!
New Central Library – 710 West Cesar Chavez Street
You can’t really bring up the New Central Library project at this point without mentioning its increasingly inflated budget and seemingly flexible opening date — but man, the building itself is certainly a looker.
Fareground – 111 Congress Avenue
We’ve talked about it before, but I’ll use any excuse possible to bring up the Fareground food hall project spearheading the revamp of One Eleven Congress, my second favorite O.G. Austin skyscraper. I can’t wait to drink several full-sized beers at an extremely teeny version of Easy Tiger.
PSW Mixed-Use Project – 900 South First Street
Developer PSW has big plans south of the river, and the mixed-use project at 900 South First Street is one of their most interesting. It’s in a location currently not considered particularly walkable, meaning its success at changing that for the better will probably depend on attracting interesting commercial anchors for the ground floor retail spaces of the building. We like to joke around about hoping Austin doesn’t get any more yoga studios, but seriously, feel free to build a yoga studio. Whatever gets people interested.
The Marquis – 1301 West Fifth Street
For once, I was way ahead of the game announcing the Marquis development, an Oden Hughes / CWS joint going up on an old AT&T site at 1301 West Fifth Street. Designed as luxury residences with styling by Kelly Grossman Architects, about 10 percent of the 226 units in the six story building will be priced below market rates for lower-income affordability — which isn’t such a bad number in a city where developers go the way of fee in-lieu more often than not.
Hooters Tower – 425 West Riverside Drive
Hot wings, angry neighborhood associations, the “Peanuts” comic strip — there’s a lot going on at this 1.45 acre site south of the river. The mixed-use tower proposed for the site includes office space, retail, and 10 inevitably opulent residential units. Folks online have already pointed out the building’s resemblance to the Jawa sandcrawler from “Star Wars,” and let me tell you, if I wasn’t excited before…
Scholz Garten Revamp – 1607 San Jacinto Boulevard
It might be the oldest operating business in the state, but Scholz Garten’s food was just all right, with much of its charm found in history and a good beer garden rather than eats. That’s the kind of situation that made me slightly worried about the long-term success of the restaurant in a downtown market where if you’re not balling, you’re closing — which is why I’m glad the sausage experts behind Frank are getting on board and working some brand magic to bring the restaurant up to date without completely selling out its history or German authenticity. I trust them with that bowling alley.
Banger’s Expansion – 81.5 Rainey Street
Speaking of sausage, Banger’s is doing so well on Rainey Street that an expansion next door is currently underway, adding an extra 15,000 square feet of space to the restaurant and beer garden. While this is not a big mixed-use project, this one is right in our backyard and we’re gonna give them some love.
The restaurant’s creative team is really killing it with a series of Facebook videos documenting the features of the expansion and its construction process — you might actually learn something new from this stuff.
The Guthrie – 3300 Gonzales Street
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the region around East Seventh and Tillery Streets was going places, but I didn’t expect 330 units of multi-family residences going up next door at the seven-acre site of the former Guthrie lumberyard at 3300 Gonzales Street.
We don’t have renderings or other info for the Oden Hughes project at this time, except that it appears to be following the naming convention set by The Arnold and other projects where you just slap a “The” in front of whatever was on the site before you got there.
Hey, at least it’s not The Leslie!