$200 million project planned for RBJ Center site

Jul 1, 2014
Austin American Statesman

A new future is about to unfold for a prime waterfront site that for 42 years has been home to the 16-story RBJ Center, an affordable housing development for senior citizens

A team of local developers has been chosen to transform the nearly 18-acre site just east of downtown with 250 new units of affordable senior housing, 250 units of renovated senior housing in the existing building, about 340 units of market-rent apartments and condominiums for a mix of ages and incomes, and 25,000 square feet of commercial space

The project is expected to have a price tag of $170 million to $200 million

Nonprofit Austin Geriatric Center Inc., which owns and operates the RBJ Center, in January 2012 solicited bids from developers interested in carrying out its vision for the site, which is north of Festival Beach and has views of downtown and of Lady Bird Lake. The board told the American-Statesman that it has chosen Southwest Strategies Group, Momark Development and DMA Development Company LLC to take on the project

Plans must go through a city approval process, but developers hope to break ground by late summer or early fall of 2015 on a new five-story building with affordable housing units for seniors. Once that building is completed, residents from the existing tower could move in while the older tower is renovated

The entire project — including a five-story building envisioned for a mixed-use development on 9 acres of the site — is expected to cost $170 million to $200 million. Financing would come from a variety of sources, including affordable housing bond money and tax credits

The project, Chris Yanez, principal planner with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said, “has the potential to positively affect the surrounding city parkland, by providing additional open space, (American With Disabilities) compliant connections and by contributing parkland dedication funds” for the Holly Shores/Edward Rendon Sr. Park master plan

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