Block 21: W Hotel and Residences

24 10 2007

Last week the W Hotel and Residences officially broke ground. To be honest, it’s the first time I’ve seen the letter “W” downtown without an anti-symbol displayed with it. In fact, this seems to be a W that many Austinites are happy to welcome to town.

Block 21 of the 2ND Street District is now the construction site of a $260 million dollar project that once completed, will be home to a 35 story, Platinum LEED-certified structure designed by Arthur Andersson of Andersson-Wise. Here’s what’s planned for the site: 

  • 250 hotel guestrooms

  • 196 condos  

  • Austin City Limits Studio Theater (2,200 seats)

  • Spa and Pools

  • Signature bar and Restaurant

  • 25,000 sq ft of ground floor retail space (The sales staff shared with me a list of possible tenants including Uchi, Eddie V’s, and a high-end grocer)

Unfortunately, I probably will not become a lucky resident of the W Austin anytime soon, but that doesn’t stop me from daydreaming about the legendary “Whatever/Whenever” service the home owners will enjoy. If you’re unfamiliar with the experience, W/W stands for pretty much anything and everything you could possibly request… so long as it’s legal, which some would argue is a relative term here in Austin… Here are few examples of that delightful W/W service:

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Town Center Will Create Place and Value For Oak Hill Residents

24 04 2007

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On March 9, 2006 the City of Austin amended its Transit Oriented Development [TOD] Ordinance to include a TOD district in Oak Hill. Since then, stakeholders in the area [residents, business owners, employees, etc.] have been participating in the planning process that will ultimately determine what the redevelopment will look like and how it will fit in the greater context of the city and region. Oak Hill by and large has received minimal attention compared to other redevelopments that are closer to Austin’s core.

The proposed TOD district will provide a walkable destination for the residents that will promote greater connectivity to downtown Austin via new transit alternatives. In the planning process, residents are requesting zoning changes that would allow for a mixed-use, live, work and play environment. The town center presents a remarkable quality of life improvement for the surrounding neighborhoods and ought to contribute to increased social engagement, environmental sensitivity and economic benefits. This type of development isn’t unique to Oak Hill; in fact, it’s the prevailing philosophy in sensible, urban growth throughout Central Texas

So how might this impact the local real estate market? The benefit of being well connected to the rest of the city will get capitalized in the market value of the land. TOD in Dallas suburbs, such as Plano and Addison, has driven property values higher. According to an impact study performed by economists from the University of North Texas, residential properties near transit stations rose 39% more than a comparable, control group of properties not served by mass transit over a four year span. The redevelopment of Oak Hill will have a similar effect on home values near the town/transit center. Austin will have its own hard data to support the TOD argument once the Red Line opens in 2008.

If you have an interest in the proposed Oak Hill town center, join us for the next neighborhood planning meeting this Thursday.

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51 Reasons Why Downtown Austin is Home to New Urbanism

30 03 2007

“Austin’s efforts to create a denser and more active urban core have helped it land a major conference that will draw an estimated 2,000 attendees next year to learn what the capital of Texas is doing right. Austin has been selected as the host city for the 16th annual Congress for the New Urbanism, a leading national forum dedicated to advancing the urban density model and promoting alternatives to sprawl” (Austin Business Journal).

Why did they choose Austin? Here are 51 reasons. Email me to request a copy of the latest downtown emerging projects map and information regarding downtown living [Jason.M.Groves(at)gmail.com].

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Seaholm Will Fuel Downtown With a New Type of Power

15 03 2007

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 The Austin urban landscape has been changing drastically every day so far in 2007. We’re not developing at the rate of Dubai, but my how things are changing. Most of the attention lately has been focused on two new urban villages, The Domain and Mueller Redevelopment which seemed to sprout overnight, but my attention is elsewhere.

 I had the privilege of meeting with John Rosato, managing partner for Seaholm Power, LLC earlier this week. John spoke to me and a few associates at my brokerage about a future (re)development that will be focused around my favorite architectural landmark in all of Austin, the Seaholm Power Plant.

After hearing about the effort to preserve the historic, art-deco structure in addition to creating 275,000 sqft of luxury, residential condominium space (right on Town Lake), I couldn’t help but think about the many ways I will begin saving up for a down payment in 2009 when completion is expected. After studying the plans and talking to John, I believe this site will be particularly significant to the urban core of Austin as a result of the transit oriented approach the development team is taking. 

The Seaholm Power Plant has sat dormant for nearly 20 years. I’m excited to see the site will soon be restored and functioning as a power source for community building and social capital in Austin for many years to come. (Someone please inform Robert Putnam, we’ll no longer be Bowling Alone!)

John Rosato mentioned, “The units could cost from about $450,000 for about 1,200 square feet to more than $1 million for the largest 3,000 square foot units.” So maybe I should’ve said, “Those who can afford the down payment won’t be bowling alone…” I’m hoping to get the Seaholm pioneer discount.

 

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Condos Headed to Zilker

6 03 2007

Austin Business Journal reports, City Council has approved a zoning change for a new mixed-use condo development along Barton Springs Blvd.

The project plans call for 128 condominums and aproximately 10,000 sqft of retail space across from Chuy’s, near Sturzig street. No renderings have been released.

 

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