The Springdale Green office development now underway at Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard in East Austin represents nearly an ideal future for a former industrial site with an almost 50-year backstory of poisoning its neighborhood. This 30-acre property operated from the 1940s to the 1990s as a “tank farm” for the above-ground storage of petroleum products, its facilities located only feet from nearby residential properties — a result of the city’s racially segregated zoning patterns placing the vast majority of undesirable industrial facilities to the east of I-35.
After numerous indications of groundwater contamination and years of community activism addressing the facility’s negative health effects on surrounding homes, the tank farm shut down and the oil companies involved began a slow remediation process that never fully returned the land to an unpolluted condition, thanks to state environmental regulations allowing the property’s owners to instead place deed restrictions preventing future residential use of the site. That’s the situation inherited by San Francisco-based real estate developers Jay Paul Company, who successfully sought a planned unit development rezoning for the site in 2021 allowing the construction of the 872,500-square-foot Springdale Green office campus.
The finished development will bring two office buildings and a parking structure to the site, with the PUD’s increased height limits allowing the developer to reduce the project’s impervious cover to 50 percent. That number already represents an achievement for sustainability, but the plan by architects Gensler Austin and landscape architects dwg. also meets local and national environmental standards for its office buildings, along with extensive stormwater runoff mitigation efforts, water treatment, and other restoration work on the roughly 19 acres of the property unsuitable for building due to their location in a floodplain — and although surrounding neighborhood associations expressed concern about its proposed height, those design features addressing area flooding are why the project’s closest neighbors on Saucedo Street have provided their support.
Though a couple of office buildings can’t right the wrongs of Austin’s historic discriminatory land use, the environmental efforts of the project — along with the rest of the developer’s community benefits package, adding up to the tune of more than $7 million in funding pledged to local housing groups — make Springdale Green a model for the stewardship of difficult brownfield sites. Until the project’s finished around the end of 2023, we’re glad to see this stunning 3D walkthrough of the full completed site courtesy of architectural visualization firm TMRW: