If you’ve been downtown in the last few months, you don’t really need us to tell you the Alexan Waterloo tower project at 700 East 11th Street is starting to look pretty close to finished, at least on the outside — but in case you’re still keeping your distance, we figured we’d go take a gander at this 30-story, 270-unit apartment tower by Trammell Crow Residential while the weather’s nice.
Speaking of nice, we’re happy to see this project’s red brick exterior design from Dallas-based firm GDA Architects looks great in person. Despite the impressive masonry spectacle of the recent Hotel ZaZa / Gables Republic Square tower elsewhere in downtown, this type of brick tower is actually fairly rare in Austin, and even if it’s not entirely intentional the Alexan tower’s exterior harmonizes nicely with the Street-Jones Building located a little further down East 11th Street across the highway — not to mention the sadly less tall apartment project simultaneously under construction directly across I-35 now known as the Dorsey, also designed by the folks at GDA.
At least for the moment, the Alexan is the tallest tower in this corner of the downtown area by a lot, and its presence overlooking I-35 makes it one of the most visibly prominent new elements of the downtown approach from the north. That’ll be doubly true once we’ve torn down the Frank Erwin Center, which despite some degree of nostalgic “Old Austin” charm in its monolithic 1970s drum look — or an inverted Mission tortillero, if you ask us — wasn’t exactly the warmest greeting to downtown’s major southbound gateway on I-35.
Though Alexan Waterloo reportedly features about 11,000 square feet of office space in addition to its apartment units and resident amenities, the tower’s only misstep for us is its lack of ground-floor retail. Its developers would likely attribute that omission to scarce foot traffic in the immediate area, but that’s not entirely true — the tower, though it’s up against the spectacularly unfriendly pedestrian environment of the I-35 frontage road, is quite literally around the corner from Waterloo Park, soon to debut its new look as a heavily-updated downtown destination and venue.
For what it’s worth, the Alexan will also soon see the rise of the Greystar tower only known for now as Symphony Square directly next door, and that project features retail. We’re just glad someone’s including it here, since a suitable restaurant space will likely soon find attention from visitors at Waterloo Park. Anyway, the fact that these towers are both bringing actual residents to the area will already do a lot to foster more activity in this relatively downtempo sector of downtown.
With all that in mind, we couldn’t help but notice that along with the tower looking pretty close to finished, Alexan Waterloo has officially launched its marketing push for a Summer 2021 grand opening — you’ll find Instagram and Facebook pages spinning to life along with the project’s main website, which includes some floor plans and an amusing glossolalia of praise for nearby Tex-Mex joint Pelon’s. Here’s a look at the interesting layout of a two-bedroom unit in the tower:
Summer lasts a while, but with that opening target we’d expect these folks to start leasing any time now. After watching this tower since its first appearance all the way back in 2017, we’re excited to see what it can do for this side of town — particularly now that the nearby Waterloo Park actually has an opening date, not to mention the start of demolition next door for a tower we know surprisingly little about. Turns out this neighborhood was interesting after all.