A planned unit development proposed by New York-based real estate firm Tishman Speyer Properties would raise a 400-foot tower atop a 0.8-acre assembly of adjacent properties currently containing a tire shop and nail salon on South Congress Avenue. The plan for the site, spanning 311 to 315 South Congress Avenue, was previously described in local reports earlier this year as a 330-foot office tower with ground-level retail space — but the developers have now modified the PUD to instead propose a building that’s 70 feet taller, containing approximately 450 residential units, 7,500 square feet of ground-level commercial use, and up to 30,000 square feet of offices.
Although the plan is still in the assessment stage, as proponents of added housing we’re obviously pretty stoked about this project’s residential pivot — especially since due to the requirements of the PUD, 10 percent of those residential units will be income-restricted to individuals or families earning no more than 60 percent of the Austin area’s Median Family Income, which is currently $46,380 per year for a one-person household or $66,180 for a family of four.
That’s 45 new affordable homes in an increasingly desirable downtown-adjacent district with lots of upcoming growth — for one thing, it’s located directly south of the significantly larger upcoming redevelopment of the Austin American-Statesman headquarters, and only about 1,000 feet from a future Orange Line station. The plan also proposes 2,500 square feet of commercial space to be rented at 80 percent of the region’s typical market rents for at least 25 years — an affordability concept we’ve seen more often lately as an effort to attract local business.
But what’s all this about the bees? In addition to other environmentally-minded features like rain gardens, rooftop solar, and LEED-compliant glass reflectivity levels no greater than 15 percent to deter bird collisions, the PUD proposal also describes the building’s future participation in an “urban beekeeping initiative:”
Project will install a beehive on the roof and provide regular beekeeping maintenance and management. This sustainable program promotes the protection of both honeybees and wild bees. Educational classes for residents/customers will also likely be part of the program.
— 311 – 315 South Congress PUD Proposal
Bees! What’s not to like? Anyway, the proposal should hit the formal submittal stage by the end of the year, so sooner or later we’ll get a closer look at what’s headed to this tiny tract — basically, don’t let the slapfight over the larger planned development next door distract you from everything else going on south of the river.