The Changing Face of Downtown

<a href=downtown.gif target=blank>CLICK HERE</a> to view a large map of downtown
CLICK HERE to view a large map of downtown

For better or worse, there's still a heap of new downtown buildings and municipal projects well under way, with several set to open soon. Save for the delayed Intel project, here's what we can look for in the coming days, weeks, months, years, grouped by function (commercial, residential, civic) and whether each is actually under construction or only planned. We've called Intel "planned" (although "limbo" might be more precise); and the final project listed here, the visionary Seaholm Power Plant, is semi-officially On Hold.

Lest you think that downtown is going to be one big construction carnival from here to eternity, fear not. Economic factors being what they are, many of these commercial projects won't be getting off the ground any time soon, perhaps not at all.

But here's an itemized look at what's headed our way -- and others that may never see the light of day.



C1a Computer Sciences Corp (CSC) -- Block 2

Cesar Chavez, Guadalupe, 2nd, San Antonio

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office

DEVELOPER/OWNER: CSC (city ground lease)

COMPLETION DATE: July 2001 The same architects who brought you the Austin Convention Center (including its expanded version) and the Austin Bergstrom International Airport will bring you CSC's first of two (although CSC insists there'll be three) buildings in this public-private endeavor heralded for jump-starting downtown growth. CSC will sublease at least 100,000 sq. ft. of the overall 215,000 sq. ft. of space due to CSC layoffs within the company's Financial Services Group in Austin.

C2 CBD Restaurants

2nd, 3rd, San Jacinto, Trinity

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial restaurant

DEVELOPER/OWNER: J17 Fortune LP and Gottesman Family Limited Partnership

COMPLETION DATE: Midsummer 2001, first phase Sandy Gottesman has directed some of Austin's most high-profile development projects, first as Trammell Crow's regional president and as head of his own company, which he formed after leaving Crow in 1992. Now Gottesman is transforming some old warehouse space to bring three new restaurants to the eatery-starved Convention Center neighborhood. The restaurants, all of them chains, include P.F. Chang's (adding to its first location in the Crow-inspired Arboretum shopping center), Fleming's Prime Steak House & Wine Bar, and Roy's Restaurant, a Hawaii-based restaurant that touts a "Euro-Asian" menu.

C1b Computer Sciences Corp (CSC) -- Block 4

Cesar Chavez, Colorado, 2nd, Lavaca

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office

DEVELOPER/OWNER: CSC (City ground lease)

COMPLETION DATE: November 2001 This building will mark the second phase of what CSC says will be a trio of office buildings downtown. By the time this building opens in late fall, CSC expects to be able to fill the entire 215,000 sq.-ft. building.

C3 300 West Sixth (CarrAmerica)

300 W. 6th

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial

DEVELOPER/OWNER: CarrAmerica Realty

COMPLETION DATE: January 2002 Landholder/developer Perry Lorenz bought this property for a song from Resolution Trust Corp. in 1993, and sold it to CarrAmerica when the market started getting hot again. This $88 million high-rise was the only downtown office project to get off the ground last year, and developers predict it may be the last one for a while. CarrAmerica says the building is about 70% leased. Tenants include Austin Ventures and two law firms -- Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Clark Thomas & Winters.


C4 11th St. Commercial Corridor

Three blocks along 11th, east of I-35.

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial mixed use

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Riata Development


COMPLETION DATE: September 2002 Here's another big dream that's been on the books for ages. Now Riata is pressing ahead on the 125,000 sq.-ft. project -- regardless. Plans call for 70,000 sq. ft. of office, retail, and up to 25 townhomes on the backside of the block.

C5 Hampton Inn & Suites

200 San Jacinto

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial hotel

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Valencia Hotel Corp., The Finley Co.


COMPLETION DATE: Fall 2002 This 222-room hotel just might make it off the ground before the Convention Center hotel project. The 18-story hotel will take on some of the overload from other downtown hotels.

C6 Hilton Hotel @ the Convention Center

4th, 5th, Neches, Red River

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial hotel

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Hilton Hotels, Landmark Organization, city

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: Excavation starts in May

COMPLETION DATE: Summer 2003 Remember when Hilton and Landmark promised the city it wouldn't have to shell out a single dollar to build this bond-driven, $200 million hotel? And then the city awarded them the contract based on that promise? Well, things didn't turn out as planned. A weak bond market forced the city to commit to $15 million of the bonds, which we're told are still being sold in order to raise enough funding for the project. In the meantime, excavation is set to begin in May. Stay tuned.

C7 Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts

Riverside, S. 1st, Barton Springs Rd., Dawson

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial



COMPLETION DATE: Summer 2004 It's a good thing fundraising for this center started when the economy was hot; otherwise, it might still be hobbling along on a couple of million. Banker-lawyer Joe Long and wife Teresa kicked in a tidy $20 million to jump-start the project -- the future home of opera, ballet, and symphony performances -- and Dell Computer executives followed suit with their donations.

C8 Sixth+Lamar (Austin MarketPlace) North Block

Lamar between 5th and 6th

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Lamar + Sixth + Austin Inc. (Schlosser Development Corp.)

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: Real soon, we're told.

COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain Just when it looked like this mega retail deal was dead in the water, this project is now oh-so-close to finally, maybe, for sure breaking ground this month on a $110 million, 430,000-sq.-ft. shopping center of hifalutin chain stores, which has been in the works for years. After Sony/Loew's pulled out of its 18-screen theatre lease, the Schlosser guys managed to land another theatre tenant, although they're not naming names.

C1c Computer Sciences Corp (CSC) -- Block 21

2nd, Lavaca, 3rd, Guadalupe This building is the third prong of the city/CSC deal, but most locals in the know are betting it won't happen, at least not any time soon.

C9 Intel

5th and San Antonio

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office


COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain By now, most of you know the Intel project, currently a half-built frame of concrete and steel, is in a holding pattern while company officials spend the next nine months evaluating whether they should complete the 10-story, $124 million chip design center or cut their losses and sell the property, lock, stock, and skeleton. In the meantime, Intel officials say they intend to keep their building permit current by filing renewals every 180 days.

C10 Bank of America Center

515 Congress Ave.

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Hines Interests


COMPLETION DATE: Undetermined Though Houston-based Hines Interests, considered a national giant among office developers, doesn't expect to begin construction for another five years on an additional 26-story office tower on the existing site, it hopes to soon begin building a new parking garage on East Fifth, between Brazos and San Jacinto. Hines recently submitted its proposal to the city.

C11 101 Colorado (renamed Metropolitan Life bldg.)

101 Colorado

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Lincoln Property Co., Metropolitan Life

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: Uncertain Despite Met Life's deep financial pockets, this project has been on and off the table since 1999. Met Life recently renewed its intent by filing a site plan application with the city. Local developers say this market-driven project won't be going anywhere for at least another year or so.

C12 Congress at 4th

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Cousins Properties, Cousins Stone

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: Uncertain Tim Hendricks of the Austin Cousins Stone office says he's looking for a September groundbreaking on this baby, but others say there's no way. But, local developers say, if anybody can make a downtown office project happen, it's Hendricks -- only not this year.

C13 Robertson Hill

I-35, spanning 3 blocks south of E. 11th

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial mixed use

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Riata Development

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: Uncertain Developers' big dreams for this choice piece of real estate (commonly referred to as the Bennett tract) have been on-again-off-again since the Eighties. All we can say about this deal now is that it's not as hotly controversial as it used to be, but neighborhood concerns still reign in areas concerning height, density, and the project's overall compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods. The City Council is expected to take another look at the Riata proposal -- which consists of offices, residential, and a possible hotel -- on May 3.

C14 Vignette Corp.

401 E. Cesar Chavez

PROJECT TYPE: Commercial office

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Barshop & Oles Co., Perry Lorenz (Vignette has contract to buy the property). Do we want to see another Intel? Of course not. Vignette is wisely holding off on this $200 million downtown campus while the Austin-based company waits to see where the economy and Vignette are both headed.



R1 Alexan Congress

S. Congress Ave. and East Bouldin Creek

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Trammell Crow Co.

COMPLETION DATE: Complete It's almost a wrap for this 253-unit high-end apartment building, south of Riverside and across from the School for the Deaf, which is open for business.

R2 Post West Avenue (aka the Pole Yard)

300 West Ave.

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Post Properties, city

COMPLETION DATE: Complete They're putting the finishing touches on this project, developed by urban residential builders Post Properties of Atlanta, marked the first public-private residential partnership downtown. Located in an old city storage yard, these 239 apartment units run for $770 per month on up to $3,300 per month.

R3 The Plaza Lofts

W. 5th & Guadalupe

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: The Sutton Company

COMPLETION DATE: December 2001 Construction on this "sophisticated, urban" structure of 55 high-end lofts is churning along just east of Republic Square Park. These lofts aren't for everyone -- and, come to think of it, not anyone we know. The cost for one of these swank condos ranges from $300,000 to $1 million.

R4 The Nokonah

9th and Lamar

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: New Urban Partners

COMPLETION DATE: March 2002 These new digs will be home to former Gov. Ann Richards, UT baseball coach Augie Garrido, and business icon George Kozmetsky and wife Ronya when this $50 million project flings open its doors. With demolition and other groundwork out of the way, actual construction will begin in June. The Perry Lorenz/Robert Barnstone partnership will include the design handiwork of San Antonio architectural firm of Lake/Flato. Prices for these condos range from $200,000 to more than $3 million.


R5 Phoenix Residential Development

701 W. 5th

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Phoenix Property Co.


COMPLETION DATE: Summer 2002 Despite every residential builder facing the same economic hard times, Phoenix still says its pushing for a fall groundbreaking on this 175-unit apartment building.

R6 800 W. 5th (CLB Partners)

800 W. 5th (currently Miguel's Imports)

PROJECT TYPE: Residential


BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: 2nd Quarter 2001

COMPLETION DATE: 4th Quarter 2002 Developers have had to rethink this project and are attempting to scale down the size of the overall structure to offer something fully unique for Austin residents: affordable, or at least semi-affordable, housing.

R7 River City Condos

10 N. I-35 (at Town Lake)

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: River City Holdings


COMPLETION DATE: November 2002 This new and renovated development may or may not come through on this planned condo project of 35-40 condos.

R8 Reddy Ice site

9th and Red River

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: The Sutton Company

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: 4th quarter 2001

COMPLETION DATE: Late 2002 Soon after completing the Plaza Lofts, the Sutton Company expects to start work on this 220-apartment project, to include underground parking.

R9 Four Seasons Residences

Cesar Chavez & Trinity

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Maritz Wolff & Co.


COMPLETION DATE: Summer 2003 Groundbreaking for this swank residential high-rise on Town Lake was originally set for January. Now developers say it will get off the ground this summer, although some local developers express doubt of a groundbreaking happening any time soon. Regardless, developers of this project are more optimistic because they're not relying solely on new-money tenants. They're going after the old-money crowd.

R10 Post West Avenue, Phase II

805 W. 5th

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Post Properties


COMPLETION DATE: December 2003

R11 AMLI Residential: Block 20

200 W. 2nd

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: AMLI Residential Properties


COMPLETION DATE: 1st Quarter 2004 Digging and excavating work is under way for the 336-vehicle underground parking garage on which this 220-apartment complex will sit.

R12 54 Rainey Place

44-54 Rainey

PROJECT TYPE: Residential



COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain Despite other stops and starts involving Rainey Street projects, developer Gordon Dunaway is optimistic about this 76-condo project. Other residential developers say (privately) this deal is dead.

R13 AMLI Residential: Block 22

2nd, Guadalupe, 3rd, San Antonio

PROJECT TYPE: Residential



COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain AMLI and the city are renegotiating a lease deal for this project, but its future depends largely on the economic outlook.

R14 Mirabeau (200 South Congress)

200 S. Congress Ave.

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Simmons, Vedder & Co., Hixo Inc.


COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain City Council nixed this project when it was the hulking, gawking Gotham. Now it's 25% shorter in height and carries a new name, but for all practical purposes, it's basically slipped off the radar screen.

R15 Lumbermen's Investment Corp.

910 W. Cesar Chavez

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Lumbermen's Investment Corp.


COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain Lumbermen's is looking to build 160 apartments on this site that was the object of a year-long boundary dispute with the city. The city and Lumbermen's finally reached a settlement on the land. Now we wait.

R16 La Vista on Lavaca

1701 Lavaca

PROJECT TYPE: Residential

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Guerrero-McDonald & Associates


COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain This design and construction firm is anxious to get moving on this project, across the street from El Mercado, but it looks like they're going to have to wait for a rebound.

CIVIC (City/State)


V1 Robert E. Johnson bldg.

15th and Congress

PROJECT TYPE: State offices


COMPLETION DATE: Complete This $69 million office building just added 330,000 sq. ft. of additional space to the state's inventory of Austin-based buildings.

V2 Texas History Museum

18th, Congress, MLK, Colorado

PROJECT TYPE: State museum


COMPLETION DATE: Complete Yeehaw! Mark your calendars for the April 28 ceremonial opening of this $80 million museum, brought to us by the late, legendary Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura will be on hand for the event. The museum features a permanent exhibit and an IMAX theatre. Time, visitation count -- and real history -- will determine whether the museum was worth every penny the state sunk into the project.

V3 Lamar Boulevard Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge

East of the Lamar Bridge at Town Lake

PROJECT TYPE: Public foot and bike path


COMPLETION DATE: May 30, 2001 At long last, cyclists and pedestrians won't be taking their lives into their own hands when they cross the new Lamar Bridge foot path, built just for them. The path will open at the end of May, and until then we can expect some wrangling over what to name the thing. Many want to name the bridge after James D. Pfluger, who helped design the Town Lake hike-and-bike trail, while others suggest the names of two men who have died while traversing the hazardous bridge. James Slaughter was killed last year while walking along the bridge's narrow sidewalk, and cyclist Chris Kern was struck and killed by a car in 1991. The name of Austin Parks Police officer William D. Jones Sr., is also under consideration. Jones suffered a fatal bullet wound last summer near Zilker Park.

V4a Parking Garage

Riverside, S. 1st, Barton Springs Rd., Dawson

PROJECT TYPE: Public parking


COMPLETION DATE: November 2001 This won't be just any parking garage -- it'll be a Barnes + Taniguchi + Centerbrook design, with some 1,200 parking spaces.

V5 Convention Center Expansion

3rd, Trinity, 4th, Red River



COMPLETION DATE: Spring 2002 This $110 million, 420,000 sq.-ft. addition to the northern end of the Convention Center reportedly has convention planners far and wide eyeing Austin for bookings several years into the future.

V4b Community Events Center

Riverside, S. 1st, Barton Springs Rd., Dawson



COMPLETION DATE: June 2002 Thank goodness those cat shows, Christmas bazaars, gun shows, and citywide garage sales will still have a place to call home once the $48.3 renovation project reopens its doors as the born-again Lester E. Palmer Community Events Center.


V4c Town Lake Park

Riverside, S. 1st, Barton Springs Rd., Dawson

PROJECT TYPE: Public park



COMPLETION DATE: May 2002 (Phase 1) The sprucing-up of this 54-acre park isn't getting near the attention being given the nearby Community Events Center and Long Performing Arts Center. But it's green space, darn it. And we like green space.

V6 Austin Museum of Art

3rd, Guadalupe, 4th, San Antonio


DEVELOPER/OWNER: Herndon Stauch & Associates

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: Slated to break ground this spring

COMPLETION DATE: Spring 2003 After more than a decade on the drawing board, a bona fide art museum is very close to seeing reality on its very own spot of land downtown. Renowned New York architect Richard Gluckman has rendered a lovely design for this 140,000 sq.-ft. building.

V7 Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC)

600 River St.


DEVELOPER/OWNER: Center for Mexican American Cultural Arts, city

BEGIN CONSTRUCTION: January 2002 (Phase I)

COMPLETION DATE: May 2003 (Phase 1) There will be cheers all around once this 126,000 sq.-ft. center finally gets off the ground, considering all the years of controversy and internal strife the project has seen. More recently, in another in-house skirmish, the MACC board fired events manager Tomas Salas.

V8 Seventh Street Hope Center

NW corner 7th and Red River

PROJECT TYPE: Men's multipurpose homeless shelter.

DEVELOPER/OWNER: Salvation Army, city


COMPLETION DATE: 2003 The city recently approved the whopping $1.4 million cost of this property, on which a $7.8 million 100-bed center and health clinic will be built.

V9 City Hall and Public Plaza: Block 3




COMPLETION DATE: November 2003 Sandwiched between two office buildings of Computer Sciences Corp., this little box of a building is much smaller than anyone envisioned, but the city is plowing ahead with the somewhat controversial design wrought by noted architect Antoine Predock. Construction is scheduled to begin next summer.

V10 Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art

NE corner of MLK and Speedway

PROJECT TYPE: University of Texas



COMPLETION DATE: 2004 After UT regents Rita Clements and Tony Sanchez turned up their noses at the design put forth by Swiss Herzog & de Meuron, regents started the process anew and settled on Boston-based Kallman McKinnell & Wood Associates.

V11 Waller Creek Flood Diversion Tunnel

Waller Creek, E. 15th to Town Lake




COMPLETION DATE: Uncertain Despite the $25 million voters approved for this thing three years ago, the city is still trying to find additional money to finance the project. In short, this deal is going nowhere fast.

V12 Seaholm Power Plant

3rd, West Ave., Railroad Tracks, Cesar Chavez City officials are mulling over an urban design plan they commissioned of the ROMA Design Group. Leading choices for this art-deco structure include a science exploratory museum, a children's museum, or both. Big, big dreams for this area call for a new main library somewhere within walking distance of Seaholm, new pedestrian walkways and bikeways, and maybe even some kind of reuse plan for the Green Water Treatment Plant.

SOURCES: City of Austin Redevelopment Services, real estate sources, and other local wags.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

  • More of the Story

  • Deconstructing Downtown

    The Economy Sneezes -- and Austin's Central Business District Catches a Cold

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle