Though it’s pretty far removed from my typical beat of shilling for downtown Austin condos and memorializing old tower designs, I couldn’t help but notice a fairly bonkers breaking news item in the local real estate development world this week, a story that somehow bypassed all the usual suspects and showed up in “luxury lifestyle” publication Robb Report.
You’ve really got to read the whole thing for yourself, but long story short, a partnership between the Circuit of the Americas and a company called Forza-COTA Ventures LLC has announced plans to build roughly 150 condo units housed in four towers directly adjacent to the Formula One track in far southeast Austin — and they’re not wasting time, with a groundbreaking date of 2019 listed for the project, which is simply named Forza in the above article.
The project’s architect is listed as Bercy Chen Studio LP, and although we’ve covered some pretty wild designs by that firm in the past, this might just be their masterpiece.
The article, though not super long, gets increasingly bizarre as it goes — let’s just dig into a few sequential paragraphs, where there is so much going on that I’m not sure where to begin:
“The four-tower development will house around 150 units (including 10 penthouses). Some residences offer views of up to 18 of the 20 track turns for an unforgettable viewing experience, and the penthouses come with private infinity pools and balconies. Ranging from 2,000 square feet to 6,500 square feet, the townhomes and penthouses showcase two- to four-car glass garages that allow residents to proudly display their supercars.”
“Residents can access their homes through elevators located in the drive-in lobby and parking structure (which was inspired by the Porsche Museum). Onsite amenities include a fitness center, a full-service spa, cigar lounges, restaurants, an observatory, three helipads, rooftop bars, and, fittingly, a car-themed arcade. The infinity pool deck offers panoramic views of 12 of the track’s turns, allowing residents to cheer on their favorite drivers in utmost comfort.”
Ah, yes. An observatory and three helipads. Wouldn’t want to be caught with only two!
“Perhaps best of all, residents and Forza Elite Car Club members will have access to the development’s fleet of more than 40 supercars (including Lamborghini Huracan Performantes and Ferrari 488s). After having their driving abilities assessed by onsite experts, members will be given free reign to drive themselves and passengers on the track. Sixty track days have been reserved for members, and trackside maintenance and servicing will be available.”
Hmmmmmm. I’ve decided I have questions. For one thing, is this real? While trying to figure that out, I actually managed to dig up a development assessment application with the city from a few months ago discussing a Circuit of the Americas PUD, which would bring a huge push of mixed-use development to the land around the Formula One track. Here’s a selection from part of the application, describing size and usage — and yes, that number is 1,037 acres or 45 million square feet of potential development area:
But there are, as you might imagine, more mysteries. For example, what’s the story with Forza-COTA Ventures LLC? This entity, partnered with COTA for the Forza development, is associated with Kamran Nezami — a former stockbroker, pharmaceutical investor, and “healthcare trailblazer,” complete with an inexplicable, seemingly self-published “unauthorized” biography and swiftly-deleted Wikipedia bio that he may or may not have written himself. Weird!
Still, there’s an awful lot of money behind the scenes at COTA, so it’s not entirely ridiculous to think something like this might get built — it’s just really, really hard to see these renderings and read the words “waterpark,” “helipads,” and “observatory” without immediately thinking “vaporware.”
In a way, I guess it makes sense to announce this project in a glossy luxury publication that, at least for people in my tax bracket, exists only for hate-reading articles about $80 t-shirts. That’s probably the best place for potential buyers — or, perhaps more immediately, potential investors — to learn about the plan, and you’re going to need to capture a very specific echelon of the Rolex set to make it happen:
“Presale reservations are officially underway, with current prices ranging from $1.5 million to $8.9 million.”
And hey, I honestly wish them the best of luck. District 2 could probably use the economic stimulus, and I could definitely use more Dubai-esque fantasy towers in our general area. I’m going to do my best to reach out to all associated parties mentioned here and try to nail down exactly what the plan is — but until then, I’ve just got one suggestion. Have they considered adding an indoor ski resort?