For many years, the 19-acre Austin American Statesman site has occupied a coveted spot just South of downtown, overlooking Lady Bird Lake.
With the advent of the digital age, the Statesman has been downsizing its staff size over recent years and outsourcing some of its printing operations. This recent downsizing, along with the sale of the property in 2016 to a different family member within the Cox family of companies, has many people speculating what development will come next on one of the most coveted lakeside spots in Austin.
Due to its prime location, many developers in the city feel that the Statesman site is one of the most important keys to unlocking a successful “South Central Waterfront” initiative, which is a plan to “guide redevelopment along Lady Bird Lake’s south shore that includes a unified street grid, more open spaces, enhanced connections to the hike-and-bike trail and other public uses,” according to the city of Austin website.
With a zoning change from the city, the Statesman site could accommodate as much as 3 million square feet of development, some experts estimate. The property is valued on the county’s appraisal rolls at $48.5 million.
Some of the mixed-used proposals for the 19-acre site have included offices, homes, shops, a smaller Statesman building, and perhaps even a hotel— about 2.1 million square feet of development in all. This plan would completely change the look of the southern shore of Lady Bird Lake, and would allow continued expansion of downtown just across the water. A large portion of downtown is composed of government or church owned buildings, so to have such a large swath of land potentially open up for private development is incredibly exciting to city officials and the Endeavor Real Estate group, who has recently been named as master developer for the Statesman site. Endeavor is the same group that developed the Domain in North Austin.
However, with such a prime piece of land comes lots of opinions about what kind of project should get built there. Most of the property is outside of the Capitol View Corridor, which places a restriction on building heights in the downtown area in order to maintain multiple views of the Texas Capitol Building, but since it is located lakeside, there is an initiative to keep the development as “green” as possible.