Since the early 1930’s, Austinites have been resolving civil and family matters within the walls of Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse in downtown Austin. However, soon these legal matters will be resolved in a brand new, highly efficient courthouse with 25 courtrooms, a law library and more.
In the same area as the new courthouse, a number of office and multifamily developments are also underway that are expected to bring new life to the northern edge of downtown that lies between the Capitol and the University of Texas campus.
This article will dive into the history of the current courthouse and what the makeup of the area will look like once these development projects are complete. We cover:
- The History of Sweatt Courthouse
- The new site of Austin’s Civil and Family Courts facility
- An overview of the current development plans in the area
History of Sweatt Courthouse
Travis County’s civil courthouse is currently located at West 11th and Guadalupe street and was built in 1931. The building was first designed to house just four courtrooms but has been reconfigured over the years to accommodate 19, with demand only continuing to increase.1
Due to the building’s age and the utilization of its facilities beyond their originally intended use, efforts to relocate the courthouse to a new facility have been in the works for years. However, even as recently as 2015 voters turned down a $287 million bond that would have paid for the construction of a new courthouse at 308 Guadalupe Street.2
Development Plans for the New Courthouse
After a few more years of negotiations and site selection, a development plan for the new courthouse finally started to move forward. In July 2018, Travis County Courthouse Development Partners, a group led by Hunt Companies, Inc. was selected to lead the project at a new site. The new Travis County Civil and Family Courts Facility will be located at 1700 Guadalupe Streetand is planned to comprise 430,000 sf over 12 stories.3
The new courthouse will also include:
- 25 Courtrooms
- Dedicated spaces for child testimony
- Child care center
- Large multi-function room
- Law library
- Self Help center
- Community plaza
- 4-level underground parking garage
Since the initial plans were released, Hunt Companies has announced potential for a second phase of the development, a 14-story office tower 60 feet from the courthouse. Together, the two towers will consist of 725,000 sf.4
All in all, it is estimated that this project will cost $334 million and will be paid for with a mix of county funds and certificates of obligation to be paid back over 20 years.5
New Developments Near Austin’s New Courthouse
In addition to the Travis County Civil and Family Court development, several separate private and public sector development projects are underway and planned in the surrounding area.
Texas Capitol Complex Transformation
For years, developers have targeted areas closer to the heart of the CBD (south of the capitol) or projects near West Campus (north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard), largely ignoring the middle ground close to the Texas State Capitol. The Capitol Complex transformation aims to call attention back to this area and spark a change for the future.
The State of Texas’ goal is to build a walkable outdoor center that can be used by state employees as well as Austin’s citizens and visitors. Completion of the initial phase is estimated for May 2022.6 Phase I of this project will include:
- George H. W. Bush Building: 14-story, 603,000-sf office building located at 1801 Congress Ave., the site of a former surface parking lot, estimated completion May 2022
- 1601 Congress Ave: 12-story, 420,000-sf office building, estimated completion February 2022
- Additional Parking: 3,800 parking spaces between underground and above-ground garages
- Texas Mall: A pedestrian-oriented mall spanning from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 16th Street, formerly Congress Avenue
An additional two phases are planned for the project, which have the potential to add over a million square feet of office space.
Page is the lead architect for this project.
Address: 410 West 18th Street
Size: 186,960 SF
410 Uptown is a proposed office development that will be located on the corner of West 18th Street and San Antonio Street, just a block from the site of the new courthouse. The site is also a block from the University of Texas campus and a half-mile to the State Capitol
The 12-story office building will be 186,960 sf and offer 2.5:1000 structured parking.
Gensler is the architect for this project.
Address: 1836 San Jacinto Street
Size: 207,000 SF
The Employee Retirement System of Texas (ERS) is significantly expanding its presence at its existing site at the northeast corner of the Texas Capitol Complex. ERS plans to keep it’s existing main building, but will demolish a smaller annex structure to make room for this new development.
The new building will be home to both Class A office space and 15,000 sf of retail.7 The project will be nine stories in total, consisting of one retail floor, three floors of above ground parking, four floors of office space and a top floor for terrace use.8
STG Design is the architect for this building. The project is expected to be finished in 2021.
17th Street Condos
Address: 1615 Guadalupe Street
Size: 117 Condos
Reger Holdings has plans for a new “moderately priced” condo complex at the corner of Guadalupe Street and West 17th Street.
This 140,000-sf development will be catty corner to the new courthouse. The project is expected to break ground in October 2019, and construction is slated to last 22 – 24 months.
Rhode Partners is the architect for the project.
1400 Lavaca (SXSW Headquarters)
Address: 1400 Lavaca Street
Size: 143,988 SF
SXSW is wrapping up construction on its new headquarters with expected delivery in 2Q 2019.
This Class A office building will stand 13 stories tall and include five levels of parking. Development plans have shown emphasis on the use of green space and saving the original oak trees on street level.
The building is mostly preleased with WeWork and Butler Snow taking 64,967 sf and 20,816 sf respectively in addition to the estimated 45,000-sf that SXSW will occupy.
Greenbelt Commercial is the developer and Gensler is the architect for this project.
Address: 1901 San Antonio Street
Size: 347 Rooms
White Lodging Services is building a new, unique hotel in the Campus District. While half of the hotel will be dedicated to the traditional Marriott brand, the other half will contain a boutique hotel experience, a first for White Lodging in Austin. The new project will include a blend of Austin’s historic music and artistic culture, including vinyl record players in every room, paired with modern amenities like a rooftop pool.
This 11-story hotel will allow visitors to easily access campus related activities, like tailgating or attending guest speakers, while remaining close to downtown shopping.9
Construction on this project is underway, and the hotel is scheduled to open early 2020.
HKS Hospitality is the architect.
Alexan Capitol Tower
Address: 700 E 11th St
Type: Mixed Use
Size: 276 Apartments, 9,176 sf of Office
The tallest Alexan apartment tower in Texas is planned to be built a few blocks east from the Texas State Capitol building. The 30-story project is impacted by the Capitol View Corridor.
The tower will have 24 floors of multifamily (276 units total) atop eight total floors of parking (three underground and five above) and 9,176 sf of office space on the fifth floor. The 30th floor will be home to a private lounge, pool and clubhouse for resident use. In addition to the deck level amenities, the project will also include a fitness center, a dog park and wash, and a golf simulator.
Trammell Crow is the developer and GDA is the architect for this project.
What does this mean? In short, growth.
Austin has greatly expanded since the construction of the Civil and Family Courthouse back in 1931 and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
The new courthouse is surrounded by promising developments that are going to help shape downtown Austin’s future. People looking for new places to live, work, or shop will soon have even more reason to visit this area and take advantage of all the exciting opportunities these projects will bring to the city.
To find out more about Austin’s commercial real estate market, including a full list of all developments in the pipeline in both downtown Austin and across town, download our latest Austin Office Market Report.
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