Downtown Developments

by Kayte VanScoy, with contributions by Mike Clark-Madison, Kevin Fullerton, and Jenny Staff

Detailed map of downtown projects


The Brown Building (1)

Who: LBJ Holding Co.

What: 90 loft-style apartments

Where: 708 Colorado

When: Completed

Built more than 60 years ago, the long-vacant office building once was considered "the nerve center for Texas," housing such bigwigs as President Lyndon Johnson, former Sen. Ralph Yarborough, former U.S. Rep. Jake Pickle, and Texas Gov. John Connally. After an $11.5 million renovation, the first tenants began moving into the trendy lofts -- which run about $850-$1,800 a month -- late last year.

Brazos Lofts (2)

Who: Sutton Properties

What: 39 loft condominiums

Where: Fifth and Brazos

When: Opening this week

If you've got an extra $179,000 to $360,000 lying around, you could move into one of these ultra-hip downtown lofts in an old warehouse building fitted out with antique brick.

Avenue Lofts (née O'Henry Lofts; 3)

Who: Sutton Properties

What: 38 condominium units

Where: Fifth and Trinity

When: April 1999

Miami's South Beach comes to Austin's downtown! Another chi-chi Sutton project in the $160,000 to $300,000 range. This development includes a swimming pool, exercise room, and covered parking in what was once the state's Anson Jones Building.

The Nokonah (4)

Who: Urban Partners, Ltd. (aka Robert Barnstone and Perry Lorenz)

What: 70 condominiums + 30,000 sq. ft. retail/office

Where: Ninth and Henderson, off Lamar

When: Fall 2000

"If you lived here you'd be home by now" is exactly what you'll be thinking while waiting for the traffic light at Sixth and Lamar. This 11-story rose-colored sandstone luxury development will include a health spa, underground parking, swimming pools, and a stone's throw proximity to the future hub of downtown. Though the ground is not yet broken, single units have been presold to several congressmen and a federal judge.

AMLI (5)

Who: AMLI/Wooley mixed use

What: 200 units residential rental + 30,000 sq. ft. retail

Where: Third and Colorado

When: July 1999 groundbreaking

Schlotzky's mogul John Wooley is behind this apartment development which launched a thousand paper projects; his plan was the first to start the ball rolling in the desolate warehouse district around the City Council chambers. And CSC or no CSC, Wooley's project is moving forward. Sinclair Black is currently working on the design of the multileveled building -- four, five, or six stories depending on which side of the structure you're on -- and parking for 350 cars.

The Poleyard (6)

Who: Post Properties/City of Austin

What: 250 residential rental units plus 2,000-10,000 sq. ft. of over-the-store mixed use

Where: Near Fifth and Bowie, abutting north side of the railroad tracks

When: August 1999 groundbreaking

While controversy swirls around the city's other apartment plan, Post is quietly developing a unique project just around the corner. The 250-unit residential complex might include a ground floor with "flex space." That is, retail shops with the proprietor's apartment just above. Post is also developing a palette of materials that will be appropriate for the industrial site, which may include front porches designed to look like loading platforms with corrugated metal garage-style doors. Look for it to be completed by 2001.

Northshore Neighborhood Condominiums (7)

Who: Robert Knight Realty

What: 18 townhomes

Where: Rainey St. on Town Lake

When: n/a

This project is currently on hold while Knight attempts to build some kind of partnership with Gordon Dunaway, developer of the future Town Lake Condominiums directly across Rainey Street.

Town Lake Condominiums (8)

See above.

Gables Residential Project (9)

Who: Gables Residential

What: 300-unit residential rental and five-story parking garage

Where: Cesar Chavez and Lamar

When: n/a

Controversy over this property has been rampant since the Eighties, when former mayor Ron Mullen was caught in a loan scandal and the bottom dropped out of the real estate market. Lawsuits have been aplenty, including several from environmentalists who contend that the site is really a city-owned preserve. Site plans are filed for the complex, brought to you by the developer of the subtle urban splendor at Central Park, but certain individuals in high places are trying to start a buzz about an Aggie alumni meeting hall on the site instead.

Sutton Properties Project (10)

Who: Sutton Properties

What: 1.2-acre mixed-use development

Where: Ninth and Red River

When: n/a

Now that the Waller Creek tunnel is approved, Sutton is revising plans for a residential development on the current Reddy Ice site and is awaiting the results of a highest and best use appraisal for two additional lots on either side of Ninth Street, on the west side of the creek.

AMLI Project (11)

Who: AMLI/City of Austin residential

What: 200 residential rental units

Where: Third and Guadalupe

When: n/a

Now part of the nine-block CSC complex, this apartment project may or may not wind up on this site. Originally planned at Second and Colorado in conjunction with the AMLI/Wooley project at Third and Colorado, plans for this
200-unit city-subsidized project were disrupted when the Second and Colorado location was promised to CSC late last year. Planners say the project is still on the table, however, and slated to begin construction this fall.

Commercial (Retail/Office)

Benson Building (12)

Who: Lake Austin Group with Sutton Properties

What: Remodeling 14,000 sq. ft. office

Where: Fifth between Congress and Brazos

When:March 1999

This two-story gem was built in 1897. Formerly a 1920s Studebaker dealership and a USO during World War II, the building is now up for consideration on the National Historic Registry. Office and retail spaces are now for lease with renovations complete by March.

Texas Assoc. of Broadcasters HQ (13)

Who: Texas Association of Broadcasters

What: 22,000 sq. ft. office space

Where: 11th between Trinity and Red River

When: March 1999

Lone Star all the way, with rose-colored stone à la the Capitol and Texas motifs throughout, this three-story building (plus parking) will house the TAB and other media outlets that cover the Capitol.

GSD&M Expansion (14)

Who: GSD&M

What: 54,000 sq. ft. expansion plus a 375,000 sq. ft. parking garage

Where: Sixth and Henderson St.

When: Summer 1999

If you've always liked that kooky GSD&M building on Sixth Street, then you'll love the company's expansion to accommodate their growing media and creative departments. Look for more of the same Fisher-Price-meets-IBM design style.

Grove Drug (15)

Who: Southwest Strategies

What: 11,000 sq.ft. restoration of office/retail

Where: Brazos and Sixth

When: Summer 1999

Everybody loves the Grove Drug sign on Sixth Street, and don't worry, it's not going anywhere. Restoration of the sign and many other original features of this four-story turn-of-the-century building has been needed since it closed in the early Eighties. Tenants are currently in negotiation.

Stephen F. Austin Hotel (16)

Who: Tom Stacy Property

What: 190-room renovation of 1929 hotel

Where: Seventh and Congress

When: Summer 1999

Closed since 1987, this historic renovation is an Austin landmark with a rich history and an impressive roster of former guests. Just five blocks from the Capitol, the building includes ballrooms, meeting rooms, and a restored grand staircase and front desk.

The MarketPlace (17)

Who: Lamar-Sixth-Austin Inc.

What: 500,000 sq. ft. office/retail

Where: Lamar from Fifth to Sixth

When: Spring 2000

Everything you ever wanted in a suburb will now be in the heart of downtown: 150,000 sq. ft. Target, 16-screen stadium-seating Loew's Theatre, centerpiece courtyard, Johnny Rockets, Book People, Office Max, Powerhouse Gym, and six levels of parking. City officials and the developers both pooh-pooh the traffic nightmare that is bound to result, but there is currently no viable plan on the table to solve the rush-hour log jam or facilitate pedestrian traffic in this already bustling shopping district.

524 North Lamar (18)

Who: Edward Joseph Company / Evan Williams

What: Three-story, 37,300 sq.ft. office above retail

Where: Corner of Sixth and Lamar

When: Late 1999, early 2000

A high-end shopping center with an interior parking lot and 10,000-sq- ft. health spa on the top floor. The Williams family has owned this land since the Fifties and plans a very homegrown West Austin development, with a streetscape to match the tony commercial neighborhood and plenty of pedestrian comforts.

CarrAmerica Project (19)

Who: Carr America

What: 400,000 sq. ft. office plus
25,000 sq. ft. retail

Where: Sixth and Guadalupe

When: Groundbreaking July 1999

This 23-story building, including parking, will house a large corporate law firm and several high-tech companies. Retail options may include a dry cleaners, video rental, and delicatessen. To be completed by 2001.

MetLife Project (20)

Who: MetLife Insurance

What: 250,000 sq. ft. office space

Where: 101 Colorado

When: n/a

According to MetLife, info on this building is limited because plans are still in negotiation.

Museum Park (21)

Who: Scott Young

What: 500,000 sq. ft. office/retail

Where: Nueces from Third through Sixth

When: Groundbreaking this summer

Financing and planning are still in the works for this ambitious office and retail park with two parking garages.

200 Congress Project (22)

Who: Bonner Carrington Corp.

What: 300,000 sq. ft. office/retail

Where: 200 Congress Ave.

When: n/a

22 stories on the last empty block on Congress Avenue. Tenants are not yet announced and construction deadlines are still up in the air.

Bennett Tract (23)

Who: Bennett Corporation

What: two lots

Where: 11th and 12th streets at I-35

When: n/a

Bennett Corporation would like to build a mall on top of these lots but the City Council, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the Austin Revitalization Authority have different ideas. The lots were recently zoned residential when the City Council approved the ARA's master plan for the neighborhood, but city staff agreed to consider rezoning the area for the mall over the next three months.


Travis Co. Criminal Justice Center (24)

Who: Travis County

What: 232,000 sq. ft. office/holding facility

Where: 10th between Nueces and San Antonio

When: October 1999

This 11-story building will house 12 criminal courts, 96 holding cells for inmates, and the relocated central booking facility for the county which is currently housed at the Austin Police Department. Included with this new construction will be the remodeling of the current courthouse annex, due to be completed in May 2000.

American Institute for Learning (25)

Who: AIL

What: 16,000 sq. ft. classroom/office

Where: Fourth and San Jacinto

When: Fall 1999

Utilizing federal, city, county, and private grants, AIL is expanding and upgrading its classrooms to facilitate, among other things, better computer access for students. The three-story brick building is nearly completed.

Texas State History Museum (26)

Who: State of Texas

What: 175,000 sq. ft. museum plus IMax Theatre

Where: Congress and MLK

When: Spring 2001

Think history museum. Dusty books and oak-lined hallways, right? Think again. Two theatres -- one a 400-seat I-Max Theatre and one a 200-seat "special effects" theatre -- will tell the history of "how the land shaped the people and how the people shaped the land" in Texas. In the nighttime off-hours, touring I-Max movies will be shown. Small, traditional collections of artifacts make up permanent exhibits, but on the whole this museum will be back to the future with interactive exhibits. From the outside, however, it will be decked out in conventional Texas granite for the Capitol Complex.

Palmer Auditorium Renovation (27)

Austin Civic Center (28)

Town Lake Park (29)

Who: ARTS Center Stage, the City of Austin

What: A new civic center from scratch, a performing arts center in the old Palmer building, and parkland surrounding it all

Where: The south shore of Town Lake, extending west from the intersection of South First Street and Barton Springs Road

When: Civic center in 2001; performing arts center and park in 2003

Last November, Austin voters gave their approval to a city plan to levy a 5% tax on rental cars that will raise $40 million for a new civic center and parking garage, and to lease Palmer Auditorium -- at a rate of $1 a year -- to ARTS Center Stage, a coalition of arts groups committed to raising $50 million for its renovation into a performing arts center. But the focus of it all, if neighborhood and parks activists have their way, will be the surrounding Town Lake Park, a public, urban greenspace that will be complemented by the buildings that reside in it -- not the other way around. Former mayor Lester E. Palmer, 92 years old and still an Austin resident, has agreed to the transferring of his name to the new civic center; a new appellation for the old auditorium will be sought.

Lamar Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge (29)

Who: City of Austin

What: A "double curve" foot and bike bridge across Town Lake

Where: 150-300 feet east of Lamar Bridge

When: Construction is set to begin at the end of the year, with completion by late 2000.

This separate footbridge, which grew out of a city-sponsored public input process, was put to the drawing board by architects Girard Kinney and Donna Carter.

Austin Convention Ctr. Expansion (30)

Who: City of Austin

What: An additional 205,000 sq.ft. of exhibit, ballroom, and meeting space

Where: North of the existing Convention Center, between Third and Fourth, Trinity and Red River

When: Early 2002.

Demolition is set to begin this week on the properties to be razed -- including the old Bluebonnet Market and part of the Railyard Apartments -- to make room for the $110 million expansion of a Center that is only six years old and only cost $70 million to build. However, if the Center is nearly twice as big, it can conceivably be more than twice as busy, and it's already been more successful than expected. If the city can get it together to clinch a convention-hotel deal, the expansion should not be a fiscal failure. Actual design renderings of the addition are to be unveiled by spring.

Waller Creek Tunnel (31)

Who: City of Austin

What: A 5,500-foot-long, 20-foot-wide concrete pipe, 75 feet below ground

Where: From Waterloo Park, under Trinity Street, to Town Lake.

When: Supposedly, by 2002.

The Big Pipe will not forever eliminate all flooding in Waller Creek, but it'll do enough to make the creek safe for high-intensity development. The Tunnel will also carry water back from Town Lake during dry seasons, creating a year-round babbling brook. Other than its inflow (under the 15th Street Bridge) and outflow (at the lake next to the MACC) structures -- both to be artfully designed as potential local landmarks -- the $25 million tunnel will be out of sight, out of mind.

Mexican American Cultural Center (32)

Who: City of Austin

What: Cultural Center

Where: Rainey and Holly streets

When: n/a

You funded it in the May 2 bond election when its $11 million package passed as part of Proposition 4. What will be built on the choice lakeside site is still up for grabs, however, as no design or designer has been chosen yet.

New Convention Center Hotel/ Parking Garage (33)

Who: n/a

What: 800-room hotel, 1,000-car parking garage

Where: Near the Convention Center, either east, west, or south

When: Ideally, by 2002

The city is still in the early rump-sniffing stage with seven prospective developers, all with experience in this product type, none yet publicly attached to an actual hotel operator. The city has been super-reticent to offer incentives to get this deal done -- and in fact is now sticking the hotel developer with responsibility for the center's own parking garage -- but may be forced to pony up.

Computer Sciences Corp. Office Complex (34)

Who: CSC and City of Austin

What: Three six-story buildings, office above retail, totalling 700,000 square feet: two 175,000-square-foot buildings;
one 350,000-square-foot building

Where: Fronting Cesar Chavez on the west and east sides of City Hall; and north, across W. Second, from City Hall.

When: Construction on the two lakefront buildings would begin in October, with the third building to follow within 48 months.

The city will be rolling out the carpet for CSC, investing over $8 million for landscaping, improved lighting, and refurbished utilities. CSC will pay for its own above-ground parking in the first two buildings, but the city will spend $5.8 million for 500 underground spaces in the third building which will be shared by CSC and city employees. CSC will lease the three city-owned blocks for 99 years at a cost of $11.9 million, with the city leasing back the first floors of the lakefront buildings, for $9.2 million, to rent to retailers. The city will keep income from those leases. As yet, no architectural drawings have been made available to show what the CSC buildings would look like.

New City Hall (35)

Who: City of Austin

What: A three-story, 100,000-square-foot building fronted by a plaza.

Where: On the site of the present City Hall Annex, with the half-block plaza facing Cesar Chavez, surrounded to the east, west, and north by the taller CSC office buildings.

Original renderings for the Municipal Office Complex envisioned this entire block converted into a public plaza, with the City Hall located north across Second. The current layout showcases the City Hall as a "crown jewel" or "CSC baptistry," depending on whom you talk to. Plans also include 500 underground parking spaces.

Hobby Building (36)

Who: City of Austin

What: Existing state office building

Where: Two blocks north of City Hall

When: n/a

The city will purchase this roomy complex and attendant parking garage for $44.4 million, make minor modifications, and consolidate in it about 950 city employees currently scattered in various leased locations and the municipal building at Eighth and Colorado. The parking garage will be leased to CSC, which will expand it and allot the city 100 spaces.

Austin Museum of Art (37)

Who: Austin Museum of Art

What: n/a

Where: On the vacant lot one block north of the proposed western AMLI building, facing Republic Square.

When: n/a

The AMOA owns the block where the city now wants to put the western AMLI building, but will be asked to unhand that locale and move one block north onto state land the city plans to purchase. The museum had originally wanted to move onto this park-fronting site anyway, so no objections are expected.

Parking Structure (38)

Who: State of Texas

What: Multi-story parking structure

Where: Third and Nueces

When: n/a

This existing state parking building is not really new development, but would be purchased by the city and expanded by CSC as part of the CSC / City Hall scheme.

Seaholm Power Plant (39)

Who: City of Austin

What: 110,000 sq. ft.

Where: Cesar Chavez and West Blvd.

When: n/a

When the cleanup of the old art-deco monolith is completed at the end of 2000, the city will start looking for private investors to swoop in and turn this landmark into a cultural touchstone for downtown. High-tech museum? Performing arts center? There's room for just about anything imaginable, but no definite plans or dollars on the table to do it yet.

Green Water Treatment Plant (40)

Who: City of Austin

What: Retrofitting; possible closure in 2004

Where: Cesar Chavez, between San Antonio and Shoal Creek

When: n/a

Austin's oldest water plant, built in 1924, could face closure in 2004 because of the cost of maintaining it to stay in compliance with tightened environmental laws. Closing the plant would free up more than five acres of city-owned land, right in the middle of the action.

Passenger Rail (41)

Who: Capital Metro

What: Light rail

Where: Central City and beyond

When: Six years after a successful November voter referendum

After years of talk, voters will likely be deciding on light rail in November, though the ballot has not yet been set. The Capital Metro board is expected to appoint a task force to study various routes and make its recommendations to the board prior to the vote. The red line depicted on the map is generally referred to as the "preferred" route. Still a hot-spot issue is the location of the maintenance yard for the light rail system, proposed for six of 11 acres between Fourth and Fifth streets and I-35 and Navasota.

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