New planned tower could be Austin’s second-tallest building

Aug 11, 2014
Austin American Statesman

An ambitious high-rise tower that could become the city’s second-tallest building is being planned for downtown Austin, the developers told the American-Statesman


The building, which could soar 50 stories and possibly higher, is planned for land at Third Street and West Avenue. The 1.7-acre tract is near two other prominent projects that are expected to further energize downtown’s west end and add millions to the city’s tax base over time


The new tower is expected to have 400 condominium units, up to 120,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, said the developers Perry Lorenz and Larry Warshaw with Austin-based Constructive Ventures


Construction is due to start in the fourth quarter of 2015, and the tower would take 2 1/2 years to build at a cost of more than $200 million


Constructive Ventures’ partner in the project is Austin-based Aspen Heights, a national student-housing developer that is about to break ground on an apartment project at Eighth and Nueces streets. The Third & West tower — as yet unnamed — will be Aspen Heights’ first foray into the high-rise condominium market


At 50 stories, the new tower would eclipse the neighboring 44-story condominium tower called the 360, currently Austin’s second-tallest building. The tallest building is the 56-story Austonian condo high-rise at Congress Avenue and Second Street


The high-rise is being designed by the Austin-based architecture firm Rhode: Partners. The firm’s Brett Rhode said the building will be mostly glass, with landscaped areas on different levels that will break down the scale of the building and enhance its visual appeal


Lorenz said lender financing for condo projects is currently still difficult to come by since the recession, but he expects that to change in the next six to 12 months


The new project will bring public improvements to the Third Street area, including a plaza connecting West Ave to Shoal Creek and providing pedestrian and bike access to and from the Shoal Creek trail


The tower is planned for the site that formerly housed the Austin Energy Control Center, which has since relocated to East Austin


Constructive Ventures agreed to buy the 1.7-acre Energy Control site from the City of Austin in 2010, with the initial development concept envisioning two condo high-rises. Lorenz said the plan changed, however, due to limitations on the site


Lorenz said Constructive Ventures will pay the city about $19 million for the land, about $3 million of which will go to the city’s affordable housing fund


The tract is just east of the former Seaholm Power Plant, a site that also is being revived as a mixed-use project that will include a 30-story tower — the only condo project now under construction downtown. Nearly all of its 280 luxury units, priced from about $300,000 to $1 million-plus, were reserved in about a week, a record time for a downtown condo project. Lorenz said he expects units in the Third and West project will be priced similarly



Charles Heimsath, a local real estate consultant, said that even during the recession, demand for downtown condos remained strong, with 1,057 new units sold downtown from 2009 – 2013


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