Austin Real Estate

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.

48 East Condominiums to be Zoned as a Hotel

48 East is the one of the latest and most unique condominium development projects to be approved in the Rainey Street District.  It’s unique because the Austin-based STG Design building will actually be zoned as a hotel, which will be powered by Airbnb.   

It’s confusing, but innovative. The concept is a 33-story, 239 unit building that combines the comfortable qualities of a short-term residential rental with the amenities and efficiency of a hotel. 

Once constructed, the building will offer units for sale in the price range of $300,000 for a 454 square feet studio to up to $1.2 million for a 1390 square feet, multiple bedroom condominium. Residents will have the opportunity to rent out their units via Airbnb for up to 180 days per year. 

Airbnb plans to charge 25% off the top and will provide “MasterHost” services at each property for items such as guest check-in, cleaning and linen service.  An added amenity will be local “Airbnb Experiences” for guests—events that involve hosts sharing their own takes on local culture and activities.

Condominiums can be purchased furnished or unfurnished and will feature additional features such as an extra lockable closet to store sensitive belongings and digital locks for keyless entry.    The building itself will include amenities available to all owners and guests, including co-working spaces, hotel-style food and beverage offerings, a spa-inspired fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck.

Property owners will be responsible for hotel occupancy taxes as well as property taxes and will not be allowed homestead exemptions on property taxes. 48 East is expected to open in 2021. 

What is your opinion of this condo/hotel/Airbnb concept?  Do you like the idea of a downtown condominium building built for short term rentals? Make your opinion known in the comments below!

As Austin Develops, Should We Protect All 35 of Austin's Capitol View Corridors?

What is a “Capitol View Corridor” and why are these corridors so important to building development in Austin, Texas?  Ever since the Texas State Capitol was created back in 1888, there has been a city initiative to protect and preserve the views of the Capitol from various viewpoints around the city.  Capitol View Corridors are a series of legal restrictions on construction in Austin aimed at preserving the visibility of the Texas State Capitol. This is a common practice in many state capitols, and most strictly enforced in our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C..

 In 1931, the city of Austin decided that no building within a particular zoning ordinance would exceed 200 ft.  This rule would maintain views to the capitol building and emphasize it as one of Austin’s most important structures. 

Over the years, however, the city flexed from time to time, allowing exceptions to this 200 ft rule as long as the buildings maintained a certain setback or stair-step effect that still allowed capitol views.  If you look at some of our main corridors along Congress Avenue or Lamar, you will notice some of these unusually shaped buildings that had to make adjustments to maintain a clear capitol view.  In response to the historical bending and flexing of the city rules, a state statue was passed in 1983 that established an official “Capitol View Corridor” in Austin, TX.  All buildings built within this corridor would now undeniably have to follow state regulations.

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If we count all the views protected by both the city and the state, there are 35 Capitol view corridors today. Some are just a few city blocks while others, are extremely long, like the corridor that goes out to the 360 bridge.

map courtesy of ftp.austintexas.gov

map courtesy of ftp.austintexas.gov

Today, as development is at a premium in downtown Austin, there has been much discussion if all 35 viewpoints of this capitol corridor still need to be protected today. What is your opinion? Do you think it is important that the city & state maintain a Capitol View Corridor? Should the Texas State Capitol remain the centerpiece of Austin’s skyline? As development pressure increases, time will only tell how many “exceptions” or “revisions” will be made to these state statutes in the future. But for now, enjoy those views of the dome and the goddess of liberty that you see from over this beautiful city.

What is to Become of the Austin American Statesman Site?

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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.

A rendering of the potential development to take place in future years on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake, across from downtown.

A rendering of the potential development to take place in future years on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake, across from downtown.

To learn more about the South Central Waterfront initiative, which includes 118-acres in all (32 private properties) and is directly across the lake from downtown, please click the button below:

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