2019 Developments in ATX

Austin's "Second Downtown"--The Domain

The Domain: photo courtesy of domainofficesaustin.com

The Domain: photo courtesy of domainofficesaustin.com

Twenty years ago, when the Endeavor group bought 304 acres in NW Austin, they were envisioning a 5-million-square-foot office space campus that would house the many tech companies that were flocking to Austin in the time of the tech boom. It was given the name “The Domain” to reflect the technology era and its founders’ vision for a tech-focused campus. The branding and plans were completed, and it all sounded perfect; what could go wrong? Answer: the tech bust hit, and across Austin, several million square feet of sublease space suddenly flooded the market.

It was time for developers to go back to the drawing board and get a little more creative with the plans at The Domain. Over the next few years, developers began working on the idea of a retail-driven project for the Domain. This was a part of town that was underserved in the area of retail development, so developers began asking, “Could this be the perfect spot for a sizable retail project?”

At first, finding tenants didn’t go very well. Original tenants such as Target and Crate & Barrel backed out. However, right when it appeared the project was still going nowhere, The Domain landed its first major tenant, and it was a good one: Neiman Marcus. Having such a distinguished “anchor tenant” as Neiman Marcus opened up the door for many others to come.

By March 2007, The Domain opened as one of the city’s signature retail centers, unequaled in its size, scope and tenant mix. Soon after, tech companies began to be drawn to the area, making the vision come full circle back to its original roots of office space that was anchored in the tech sector. The Domain’s 3.4 million square feet of office space is a 200 percent increase since 2010, plus it also has 3,700 apartment units and about 900 hotel rooms.

Due to its retail space, hotels, office space, restaurants, parks, entertainment district and free parking, The Domain today is an appealing alternative to Downtown, and has earned the title as Austin’s “Second Downtown.” Now, The Domain has been successful at providing the ‘live, work, play’ environment that many tech companies are seeking for their workers, drawing such giants as Facebook, VRBO, Indeed, and Amazon.

The latest projects in the works at the Domain are three high-rise buildings — two office towers and one residential — proposed in the South End District of the Domain. In combination, the three towers will have more than 1 million square feet of new space. The residential tower will have an average living space of 908 square feet for a total of 384,000 square feet in the building, and will be located adjacent to one of the Domain Office Towers.

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So, if you haven’t checked out Austin’s “Second Downtown,” get over to The Domain for dinner, drinks, a movie, and perhaps a little shopping. Thank you, tech bust of the early 2000s. Because of you, The Domain is the fantastic multi-purpose development sight that it is today. Northwest Austin has never been better!

The New South Congress

If you haven’t driven down South Congress Avenue in a while, you might be surprised at some of the developments that are popping up in the South Congress/St. Elmo area.

Here are just a few of the projects that you can already find in development in this revitalized area of town:

  1. The Public Lofts (4361 S Congress)- The PUBLIC is the first residential community in this revitalized area of South Congress and St. Elmo. The PUBLIC offers loft-style homes with open floor plans and outdoor terraces. Amenities include a rooftop fitness center & pool, a lounge, yoga & meditation studio, a shaded courtyard square with outdoor fireplace, and an off-leash dog park. Our very own Skelly Home Renovations is one of the storefronts located at the bottom of the The Public Lofts, as well as Urban Betty salon, Fawn and Blu, Flourish!, and many more!

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2. St. Elmo Public Market (4329 S Congress Ave)- Modeled after Pike Place Market in Seattle and Chelsea Market in New York, the St. Elmo Public Market will attract restaurants, music, entertainment, media, technology and related companies to the available office space building around the market. Some food vendors who have already signed on to come into St. Elmo Public Market are Mignette, a bakery and modern diner, a butcher shop/restaurant by the owners of Salt & Time, the Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company, and a new restaurant from Lick Honest Ice Creams and Family Business Beer Co.

Saint Elmo Public Market will be a place of business for local craftsmen, restaurateurs, farmers, artists and musicians. For the public, it will be a place to gather, dine, or have a drink with friends and family in a relaxed and inspiring environment. Additionally, the market and surrounding spaces will focus on the unique culture of Austin - which includes some of the best food and live music in the world.

The St. Elmo Public Market is expected to deliver sometime in late 2019.

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3. Aloft Hotel (South Congress at East St Elmo)-The site plan & permit have been approved for a 135 room Aloft Hotel on a 2-acre sight right at South Congress and East St. Elmo. Visitors to Austin can stay on South Congress and explore all the Austin culture that this trendy part of town has to offer.

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4. The Yard (440 E St Elmo Rd)- The Yard is a 200,000 square foot complex offering both manufacturing and retail space to artists, makers, creatives and social entrepreneurs, all in the same place.


Once completed, the site will be home to a diverse mix of businesses including The Austin Winery, Drophouse Design, Vuka, Impact Hub Austin, Music Lab, Still Austin Distillery, SUP ATX, The Spokesman, St. Elmo Brewing Co., Soursop, wakaNINE, Raw Paw, Enabler, Sauceda Industries, Blanton Design, ECO Roof & Solar, El Famoso, MADabolic Fitness, Wooly's Beach Volleyball, Sign Depot of Austin, The Loud Juice, and more!

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So, whether you are a local looking for something to do on a Saturday, or a tourist looking to explore Austin this weekend, come check out the new South Congress. You’ll find many good surprises in this newly revitalized part of town.

Google's Block 185, the "Sailboat Building," Will Transform Austin's Skyline

One of the newest and most exciting developments to break ground recently is Google’s Block 185 tower.  Block 185 will be a 35 floor, 793,883 square foot office building that stands 589-foot high with some parking and retail space underneath. 

So what is it that makes this downtown office building special? The answer is simple:  its shape.  Block 185 will have a distinctive sailboat shape, in part due to restrictions imposed on it by its proximity to Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake. 

Due to these two waterways and the setbacks imposed on the shape of the building to clear them, the architectural firm of  Pelli Clarke Pelli developed a distinct pyramidal design that mimics that of a sailboat, quite an appropriate shape due to its proximity to the water.  In fact, if you stare hard enough at the Block 185 renderings by Trammel Crow, you might even start to see it pick up speed and start to sail away! 

Renderings by the Trammel Crow Company

Renderings by the Trammel Crow Company

Renderings by the Trammel Crow Company

Renderings by the Trammel Crow Company

Renderings by the Trammel Crow Company

Renderings by the Trammel Crow Company

Google will be the sole leaser of all the office space in the building, although there will be a variety of shops and restaurants at street level down below.  The distinct design is creating a lot of buzz and excitement, as it promises to break up the monotony of the square box style of its neighboring skyscrapers and feels like the next innovative design to hit downtown since The Independent Condominiums (the Jenga building) arrived on the Austin Skyline in 2018. 

Projections right now have Block 185 completed and ready for occupancy sometime in the Spring of 2022.  The tower’s site is bound by Cesar Chavez St to the South, Nueces St to the East, Second Street to the North, and Shoal Creek to the West.   This plot of land is the final piece of the old Thomas C Green Water Treatment Plant to be redeveloped, perhaps because it is the trickiest due to the variety of constraints that the nearby waterways have imposed.  This new building will sit opposite from the plaza and trail space of the Central Library, and be close to the district’s distinctive new Butterfly Bridge as well. 

 What do you think of the design of this new building?   Are you a fan of Austin’s continuously developing skyline?

Renderings by The Trammel Crow Company

Renderings by The Trammel Crow Company