Austin: Mercury Hall to be Razed for Five-Story Apartment Complex
Feature Photos: Scenes of Mercury Hall Chapel, a popular wedding event venue, circa 1904, that will be razed in January to make room for a multi-story apartment complex. Images: Google Streets, Mercury Hall.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Austin (Travis County) — Mercury Hall, a popular South Austin event venue will close permanently after December 31 to make room for a five-story apartment complex.
The project architect informed the state regulatory agency Thursday that construction on the multifamily development is expected to begin Jan. 7, 2022 with the initiation of demolition and other site work. According to the filing, the developer is keeping the name Mercury Hall.
The reported estimated cost of this project is $45 million and it involves 270,357 square feet of new residential construction, with associated amenity spaces. An attached parking garage brings an additional area of 126,391 square feet for 358 vehicles, according to the site plans.
This project involved a rezoning application to change a 0.847-acre portion of the site from General Commercial Services to General Commercial Services with a Vertical Mixed-Use Building to allow for building height and residential density increases. The entire project site totals 3.785 acres.
Slate Real Estate Partners did not handle the rezoning directly; the property was under control at the time by Merc Properties Ltd.
Site plan for the new Mercury Hall apartment complex. Source: City of Austin public records.
City Council approved that request on Sept. 17, 2020, despite opposition from the neighborhood. The property is located at the southwest corner of Cardinal Lane and South 1st Street. The Mercury Hall chapel had an address of 601 Cardinal Lane, but the apartment building may have a different address.
Mercury Hall opened for business in 2005 and in its 16-year history has been a popular venue for weddings, wedding receptions and other social gatherings. The demolition permit, which was approved July 8, 2021, according to city records, included a historical structure review; the 2,237 square-foot chapel/clubhouse was constructed in 1904. Three smaller structures on site–a dressing room, shed and office–also date back to the early 20th century.
Slate Real Estate Partners considered offering to reserve 10% of the units for tenants earning less than the average area median family income. It will have a total of 265 apartment units. A city planner informed the Austin Monitor that the owner may apply for a waiver at the time of site plan to certain site development standards in exchange for providing affordable housing.
The complex was described as having three parts–a three-story residential section that steps up to five stories at its peak, and a five-level parking structure that includes some live-work units on a section of the ground level and cutaways for courtyards.
Schematic of the proposed Mercury Hall parking structure. Source: City of Austin public records.
The building and garage have a combined footprint of 97,338 square feet. Including driveways and other hardscaping, the total proposed impervious cover is 67.6%.
An attorney representing the developer at the zoning vote, Richard Suttle, said the development would include a pocket park, and the owner would take great care to preserve trees at the back southwest corner of the property, adjacent to the Cardinal Lane Condominiums.
Construction is projected to be completed by July 2023.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.