Rebirth planned for 1930s South Congress warehouse

Feb 6, 2015
Austin American Statesman

A vacant, eight-decade-old warehouse at South Congress Avenue and Barton Springs Road is about to get a makeover that the new owner says will help attract office tenants and restaurant or retail users to the site

Austin-based Cielo Property Group recently bought the 25,000 square foot building, at 220 South Congress Ave., for an undisclosed price and will launch a major renovation soon

Constructed in 1936, the building has been empty since a high-end furniture store, Your Living Room, closed in 2009. Since then, new residential and commercial projects have sprung up in the area, adding to the appeal of the location, Cielo officials said

The renovation will replace outdated infrastructure and mechanical systems and make the building easier to divide for multiple tenants. Cielo intends to preserve the metal trusses and exposed brick that give the building a raw, industrial look

“This type of space is highly sought after by businesses and entrepreneurs all over the country, but it’s hard to find here because Austin just doesn’t have many older industrial buildings with this type of character,” said Bobby Dillard, founding principal at Cielo Property Group. “We feel like whether someone is looking for a ‘one of a kind’ office space or a ‘can’t miss’ restaurant location, this building can provide that, all within easy walking distance of downtown and the shopping and restaurants of South Congress.”

Like the Austin Music Hall downtown, which Cielo purchased last year, Dillard said he expects the South Congress property to benefit from recent new developments nearby

The Hyatt Regency Austin next door has undergone major renovations, from room upgrades to the addition of a new ballroom and parking garage. New luxury apartment buildings also are being added, including The Catherine, a high-rise with 300 units, and Broadstone at the Lake, which will bring 220 units to the market on the site that formerly housed a Run-Tex store

Cielo has hired Eric DeJernett and Michael Bullard of CBRE to lease the building

Dillard said the building has already received keen interest. It is among 22 assets the firm has invested in, including retail centers, office buildings and apartment projects in Austin, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley since Dillard and Rob Gandy founded the company in 2010

Dillard said the cost of the renovation will depend on how the space is ultimately finished out, and that work won’t be completed until tenants are secured

Separate condo projects were proposed next to the site in 1999 and 2000, but never moved forward. Asked if Cielo might at some point consider selling its property to a high-rise developer, Dillard said Cielo “is excited to move forward with the renovation and lease-up of this building and has no plans to sell at this time.”

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