Feature Illustration (above): View of the Texas International Education Consortium in downtown Austin. Source: Google Image Streets.
by Art Benavidez
Austin (Travis County) — City Council approved a change in the future land use map from office to mixed-use for a local nonprofit looking to redevelop their property.
The applicant was originally requesting zoning from a general office, conditional overlay and neighborhood plan to community commercial, mixed use combining district, vertical mixed use and neighborhood plan.
The council approved an alternate recommendation for mixed use that came from the Planning Commission in August.
The property, located at 1103 West 24th Street, is .69 acres (30,056 square feet) in the West University Neighborhood, west of the University of Texas campus in Downtown Austin.
The site is currently developed with offices and classrooms for Texas International Education Consortium (TEIC).
According to their website, TEIC is a private nonprofit organization that advances internationalpartnerships, collaboration, and exchanges for 31 public universities across the state of Texas, and operates the most experienced intensive English program in the state.
According to TEIC, the building, which was built in 1962, is in decline and disrepair and is too costly to repair.
According to city documents, a major reason for the rezoning request is that finding housing for their members is costly to the program and they desire to host participants in their building.
The existing building consists of two wings of classrooms, with office space, and a hallway bridge connecting them. The building was a former dorm and was remodeled to classrooms and offices.
The three-story building has no distinctive architectural features. According to documents, materials are limited to glass windows and smooth masonry blocks with I-beams between stories. There is a glass curtain wall on the north wall of the office, facing West 24th Street.
View of TEIC’s hallway bridge that connects their facility. Source: Google Image Streets.
TIEC is proposing to demolish the existing building and replacing it with a new and more functional office, classroom and residential building.
The replacement building would be subject to 60-foot limits on building height based on the requested community commercial zoning.
Community commercial has the following development regulations:
Maximum Height: 60 feet
Building Coverage: 75%
Maximum Impervious Cover: 90%
Maximum FAR: 1:1
There is family residential zoning about 50 feet southwest of TEIC. Compatibility standards would permit building heights of 40 feet for parts of the tract that are from 50 to 100 feet away from the family residential zoning. The standards allow for an additional foot of building height for each 10 feet more than 100 feet from the family residential zoning.
The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan calls for 60 feet of right-of-way for 24th Street. It is recommended that 30 feet of right-of-way from the existing centerline should be dedicated for 24th Street at the time of subdivision or site plan.
An aerial map of the TEIC building. Source: Google Image Streets.
TEIC will be responsible for providing any water and wastewater utility improvements, offsite main extensions, utility relocations and or abandonments required by the land use, according to city documents.
TEIC would like to attract a partner to help redevelop the property with them, according to the application submitted to the commission.
TEIC CEO Robin Lerner told the Austin Planning Commission during an ordinance-required community meeting in July that they did not have any specifics regarding the number of residential units the new building would have.
“We are not at the point in design where we have that level of information,” she said. “Some people do design and planning along with their zoning cases, but with TIEC being a nonprofit we are taking a risk-averse approach and have not gotten down the design path to have this information.”
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.