The Routon-Alvarez-Lopez House, a historic residence at 809 East Ninth Street, has found itself in a pretty tight squeeze over the last few years. Perched on a diminutive .17-acre lot overlooking I-35, the home is sandwiched between two larger multifamily developments, directly west of East Austin condo the Tyndall and just across the street from the AMLI Eastside apartments.
Owned by the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation, a nonprofit community land trust organization dedicated to the ownership and development of affordable housing in East Austin, the building received a historic designation from the city in 2011. After extensive renovation by the GNDC in 2016, the home is now occupied as affordable housing by a middle-income family.
But that’s not quite the end of the story for the Lopez house. Recent city filings indicate the GNDC hopes to construct a small residential tower behind the existing historic building, bringing 24 units of affordable senior housing to the tiny property. In the documents we’ve found, the project is called La Vista de Lopez, or Lopez Tower — and it just might be the most fascinating small-scale infill plan we’ve seen proposed in Austin for some time.
There are no renderings or other visual plans available at the moment, but the descriptions of the building in the developer’s site plan application seen above give us a fairly good idea of what to expect. It’s a seven-story tower containing 26,409 square feet of total space, with its first story partially buried and containing a parking garage.
The existing Lopez house, which fronts East Ninth Street on the northern end of the site, will connect with the new tower and serve as its amenity space. The GNDC plans to acquire a .013-acre strip of public alley from the city in order to bring the project’s total area up to .18 acres, which is…still pretty small.
With 24 total units, it’s reasonable to guess the six stories after the parking garage could contain four units per floor. The maximum allowable height for development in this district is 70 feet, and it appears the project’s going to hit that limit, which gives us a nice definitive height for this massing of the tower we’ve mocked up:
Again, these units are designated as senior housing, to be developed as part of the city’s S.M.A.R.T. Housing program. This isn’t the GNDC’s first affordable multifamily project in the area — its 22-unit La Vista de Guadalupe community, completed in 2008 with design by Hatch Ulland Owen Architects, is located just a block south of the Lopez house and Tyndall at 813 East Eighth Street.
Representatives for the GNDC and the Tyndall did not respond to requests for comment regarding this development, but we’ll be excited to find out more as it moves forward — along with much-needed affordable housing, Austin could really use more efficient infill development, and the Lopez tower seems like the real deal.