Austin sees so much new development, it’s easy for projects to fall through the cracks if you don’t spend an unhealthy amount of time following them. Seriously, new buildings are announced every week, so how much space in your brain are you willing to dedicate to keeping up with them all?
We’re just as guilty of this as anyone — something gets announced, everyone oohs and ahhs at some renderings, and then you turn around and realize you haven’t heard another word about this alleged building in years. Whoops.
Here are five developments announced in the city that could really use an update.
5th & Brazos Hotel – 200 East Fifth Street
All the way back in 2013, the Chicago-based Magellan Development Group announced a partnership with Wanxiang America Real Estate Group to develop a 47-story hotel on the corner of Fifth and Brazos Streets currently occupied by a parking lot. The hotel was to be dual-branded like many other projects in town, and would supposedly include a number of residential units.
After several design revisions and height reductions, by 2014 the building’s site plan showed a 33-story tower with a 333-key hotel, 329 residential units, and two restaurant spaces.
After that, it was radio silence again — until last month, when plans for excavation at the site emerged from the city’s utility coordination committee. Plans to dig seem like the first step of plans to build, but considering how long this project has spent in relative radio silence, we’re sticking with “cautiously optimistic” for now.
Trinity Tower – 99 Trinity Street
The one-acre site at 99 Trinity Street is directly across from the Austin Convention Center, which might make it seem like one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in the city.
So what’s the holdup? Asset management firm World Class Capital Group purchased the property in 2012 for an undisclosed sum, and over the next year news began to trickle out regarding a residential tower development on the site — allegedly 38 stories with 360 units, and restaurant space on the ground floor.
Further info suggested the building might also include some condo component, with construction slated to start in 2014 — that obviously didn’t happen. It’s unclear if two lawsuits filed against World Class Capital founder Nate Paul have anything to do with the delay, but the firm also seems to be doing pretty well otherwise, so this seems unlikely. In 2015, Paul claimed the tower would be completed by late 2017, which…well, he’s still got some time.
4th & Red River Tower – 601 East Fourth Street
In 2015, renderings emerged from Ehm Architecture for a 41-story hotel and condo tower at the southeast corner of 4th and Red River Streets, a block currently occupied by Moonshine Grill and a small row of historic homes.
No developer name was attached for this project, known as the Le Meridien Hotel & Residences — it appeared to simply be the work of an architecture firm hoping the design would attract enough attention to secure investors.
It didn’t seem to stick, and in 2016 we saw new plans for the site — Manchester Texas Financial Group, best known as the folks behind the Fairmont, wanted to build a sister hotel project. The city’s historic landmark commission approved Manchester’s request to move the block’s historic homes across the street, clearing space for development.
But since then, stuff’s been quiet — if anything’s going on with this project, it’s behind the scenes. It’s probably a fair bet that Manchester won’t start anything at the site until the Fairmont finishes up later this year.
1155 Barton Springs Road
A residential project proposed at 1155 Barton Springs Road, the former site of the famous Treehouse restaurant, is certainly dragging its heels on development — the site’s been vacant since the late 1980s, and demolition didn’t take place until 2014.
A condo development has been planned at the property since roughly 2005, but after struggles including an economic downturn, battles with the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association, and a bankruptcy in 2010, we’d nearly given up hope. We finally saw a light in 2013, with site plans associated with Dallas-based Carleton Development describing a 65-unit building.
But after that, radio silence until earlier this year, when Stansberry Engineering filed with the city to make a correction to the existing site plan. The city denied the request, and its comments include a note that the building’s layout changes are too significant to allow for a correction — instead requiring a total revision. This implies that if something is going up at the site, it may be significantly different than what we saw before.
Lady Bird Lake Fishing Pier
So it’s not a building, but we’ve been waiting for this project to a-pier (yes) since 2012. Funded via donations by the CORE Health Foundation, intended to be fully ADA accessible, and open to the public, this pier structure on Lady Bird Lake was originally set to go in near the boat launch ramp by the Holiday Inn at Town Lake. In this location, it would be just across the street from the planned East Avenue apartment tower.
But last month, permits were filed for a fishing pier seemingly to be built at 1820 South Lakeshore Boulevard — that’s on the other side of the highway near the ongoing Oracle campus project. We hope it’s a separate thing and the lake on the west side of the highway still gets its pier. Otherwise, boo!