Austin: City Issues Directives on Long Awaited Downtown Tower Project
Feature Photo: An artist rendering of the proposed downtown tower project courtesy of the Austin Economic Development Department .
by Art Benavidez
Austin (Travis County) — City Council has authorized a negotiation agreement with an Austin-based developer for the master development of a long-awaited downtown tower project, at last week’s meeting.
The property is located on a 1.7-acre tract at 1215 Red River St. and 606 E. 12th St. on what was the former HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital campus. Existing structures include a vacant 88,944-square-foot, four-story building with a parking garage adjacent.
After purchasing HealthSouth’s interests in 2017, requests for proposals were issued in 2019 to redevelop the site with a priority on affordable housing. On April 23, 2020 the city selected Aspen Heights Partners.
City Council has now given the Austin Economic Development Department a list of directives for the master plan and chief among them is to provide affordable housing for the service industry and low-income workers in the Central Business District.
The master plan, as proposed by Aspen Heights Partners, will be made up of two towers. A 36-story residential tower with 420,000 square feet of housing that consists of 348 apartments and 160 condos, along with a 15-story office tower with 170,000 square feet.
As it stands today, the development program proposed by Aspen Heights Partners would give 25% of apartments to residents earning 50% to 60% of the median family income, along with ownership opportunities to those earning 80% of the median family income.
The development would also have 25,000 square feet of retail with 18,000 square feet for a local food system space. There would be a roof-top café and a viewing deck that would be open to the public, as well.
The objective of the retail component of the development would serve residents, workers and visitors to the University of Texas, along with medical and the state capital facilities.
The former HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital campus with state capitol dome in the background.
Other community benefits would include 6,000 square feet of music and arts space; a mural on the west façade of the office tower; 22,000 square feet of elevated plaza connecting towers; and preservation of the Capitol View Corridor.
Council goals also state that they could lease or sell the development once it’s completed, with a tentative minimum offer set at $12.2 million, of which $8.7 million would address site acquisition costs (per Resolution), and up to $3.5 million for the proportionate share of costs for realignment of Red River Street per city standards.
Aspen Heights Partners has enlisted the Austin-based architecture firm of STG Design, the engineering firm of Civilitude and landscape architects, Studio Balcones, to round out the project team.
Art Benavidez (Construction News Reporter, Central Texas) is a seasoned journalist with over 15-years of experience in writing breaking news and in-depth features at the local level. He honed his research and reporting skills in newspapers and magazines throughout South and West Texas along with expertise in crafting digital content as Managing Editor of New Image Marketing Research Corporation. Benevidez is a Texas native and graduate of UT-RGV.