More than four years and one pandemic after its first appearance, a tower project set to become one of downtown Austin’s most prominent additions to the skyline is finally moving forward. Today, national developers Lincoln Property Company and the Dallas-based Phoenix Property Company announced a partnership with California investment firm DivcoWest to develop The Republic, a 48-floor, 833,000-square-foot office tower bound for a full block at 401 West Fourth Street, located directly south of the signature downtown park at Republic Square providing the building’s namesake.
The partners also announced the tower has secured its first major tenant, though the company in question remains undisclosed — and that the project is set to break ground later this quarter, possibly as early as the next few weeks, with all permits now approved. Early site prep is already visibly underway at the former parking lot, with the current target for the building’s completion around the end of Q4 2024 or Q1 2025. “We’re clearly betting big on Austin office space,” says Seth Johnston, a senior vice president at Lincoln Property Company. “DivcoWest also partnered with us on the Sixth & Guadalupe project during summer 2020, and for them to enter the venture right in the thick of the pandemic speaks to our mutual commitment.”
The Republic’s iconic design has already garnered considerable attention over the last few years considering it hasn’t yet turned a single shovel of dirt — and don’t let the fact escape you that its architects at national studio Duda Paine previously designed the Frost Bank Tower more than 20 years ago, a building now considered a high water mark for aesthetics on the long timeline of Austin’s downtown boom. “The Frost Tower is the crown jewel of downtown Austin, and the goal for the Republic was creating a building that would be spoken about in the same breath,” says Johnston. “Duda Paine has come up with something exceptional, and we consider it a legacy project.”
Dallas-based firm HKS serves as the project’s architect of record, with landscape architecture design from local firm TBG Partners. The development team also includes engineering firms WGI, BDD, and Blum Engineering.
The building’s location, overlooking downtown’s most notable public square to the north and with a southern view of Lady Bird Lake, provides a striking backdrop for its tenants with numerous outdoor spaces — every office level of the tower between floors 20 and 47 features its own shaded private balcony. A 25,000-square-foot outdoor deck is located on a tenant amenity level set atop the building’s parking podium at the 19th floor, along with a second rooftop terrace near the tower’s crown.
Rather than maximizing the structure’s square footage by building out to its full allowed frontage on East Fourth Street, the Republic’s northern face features a larger setback than necessary, creating a 20,000-square-foot outdoor plaza complimenting the greenspace and historic oaks of Republic Square across the street — which should prove useful for placemaking, event programming, and the ground-floor food and beverage tenants, which are still undisclosed for now. The Lance Armstrong Bikeway along Third Street directly to the south of the building prompted the developers to include a dedicated bike entrance on San Antonio Street, with a private elevator rising one level to a shower and locker facility with secure storage for 358 bikes.
As part of its goal to create a new downtown landmark, the development team plans to include prominent lighting on the exterior of the building, including an illumination of the crown and a light channel running vertically down the tower’s facade providing opportunities for various colors and programming. Johnston also says the property’s past, once considered as the future home of the Austin Museum of Art in an unbuilt project by famed architecture duo Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, has encouraged the developers to pay homage to this history through some form of public art component, although the details aren’t clear at the moment. “It took us five years to get here,” he says. “We’re putting a ton of thought into this.”