After finding out last year that San Antonio-based developer Kairoi Residential had purchased the quarter-block at the southwest corner of West Sixth and Rio Grande Street now occupied by the goofily-named bar Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Icehouse (haha, get it?) at 701 West Sixth Street, we knew an apartment tower development of some kind was in the cards — but recent city filings for the upcoming project give us a few more facts. Here are those facts, along with a few of our much-loved “green box” massings to show you the building’s approximate footprint.
The unnamed tower will rise approximately 53 or 54 floors, depending on whether or not you interpret the sentence below as saying the one floor of “split use” that includes garage space along with retail, almost certainly on the ground level, is part of that five floors of above-grade parking — personally, my head hurts:
The proposed site plan will construct a vertical mixed-use building including 48 stories of residential and amenity space, 5 stories of above grade garage parking, 1 floor of split use including residential amenity, garage parking, and retail, and 5 levels of below grade garage parking.
Either way, our rough estimate puts the tower at anywhere between 585 to 640 feet depending on individual floor height, not as tall as the Independent a few blocks away but still a pretty substantial piece of infill for the district. With record-setting towers like Sixth and Guadalupe rising nearby — also a Kairoi project, you might note, and not the developer’s only effort to push the limits of height in the city — it’s kind of astonishing that a project like this doesn’t represent dramatic change quite the way it used to. 50 floors or so is starting to become downtown’s new normal, even though this tower likely would have set a new height record in the mid-2000s.
Shifting goalposts aside, what’s really interesting about the project is its shape, which we already kinda know due to the path of the Capitol View Corridor slicing through the 0.44-acre site diagonally. We might as well start calling this type of tower design the “Austin Prism,” a sharp block of glass cheese already perfectly illustrated by the Fifth & West condo tower on the same block that’s impacted by the same corridor.
It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, but since the new project’s quarter-block site is approximately the same size as the Fifth & West tract, it’s clear you can still put a lot of people in this footprint if you go up. Fifth & West is a condo building with much higher average unit sizes than your average apartment tower, and it’s only 39 floors tall. Even so, it’s got 154 units, meaning our Kairoi tower could easily fit hundreds more. We’ll likely find out more exact details of the project a little further down the road, and we aren’t holding our breath on a groundbreaking just yet — Kairoi’s got a lot on its plate at the moment, not the least of which is that whole “supertall” thing.
One last note — maybe we’re a little jaded, but isn’t it refreshing for a new tower to only have five levels of above-ground parking? The gargantuan garage podiums on other nearby projects including Kairoi’s own Sixth and Guadalupe building inevitably detract from their otherwise streamlined designs, but this new building’s five planned garage floors (not to mention five more underground) feel downright slick by comparison. There’s something we could do to make this the norm, you know!