After sitting vacant for more than a year, downtown Austin condo community the Villas on Town Lake, located at 80 Red River Street, is being torn down even as we speak. Seriously, we just took this — and we’re sorry for the WorldStar-style vertical video:
Built in 1982 before the area’s current residential boom, the Villas site straddles the western edge of the Rainey Street District, only a stone’s throw from both the mouth of Waller Creek and the lake itself:
The 2.3-acre complex — which never updated its name to reflect the rebranding of the nearby body of water to “Lady Bird Lake,” but that’s beside the point — was purchased in 2017 by Dallas firm Genesis Real Estate Group, which plans to develop an apartment tower on the site, with a second tower hypothesized further down the road. The few available city documents related to the project use the name “The Travis.”
The last appearance of this address in local media was a KVUE story from early this year, which described serious safety issues related to the vacant building’s popularity as an illicit shelter for Austinites experiencing homelessness. It turns out if you leave a building empty and mostly unguarded for more than a year, people will use it!
Details regarding the design and timing of construction on the Genesis tower(s) planned at the site are equally scarce and vague, to say the least. Genesis president Gordon Ip has stated at various times that the first tower could be 40, 45, or maybe even 50 stories high — or possibly none of those numbers! He’s also given a range from 30 to 60 floors of height on the second tower, so we’re really flying blind here.
This time ten months ago, financing on the project was still up in the air and groundbreaking was expected by early 2019, so at this point your guess is as good as ours — demolition doesn’t count as groundbreaking, but it’s certainly a start!