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Austin: Mixed Use Apartment Project Receives Recommendation from Planning Commission

Feature Photo: Aerial perspective of project site for a a mixed use apartment complex at 1135 Gunter Street and 1129 ½ Gunter Street. Image: Google Earth/VBX graphic.

Posted 11-11-2020

by Art Beavidez

Austin (Travis County) — A 265-unit apartment complex with ground floor commercial is coming to East Austin after receiving a rezoning recommendation from the Austin Planning Commission at their Tuesday meeting.

Located at 1135 Gunter Street and 1129 ½ Gunter Street, the two lots are converting to mixed use combining district from the single family zoning. The commission also approved a future land use map change to mixed use.

The owner of the property had requested vertical zoning on the 3.4 acres, but the vertical designation is usually reserved along major corridors that are surrounded by commercial or multifamily uses, not single family residential. 

The project site is located one block northwest of the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Springdale Road. It is currently used as parking and operations for a cab company and a bus charter company. 

The Govalle Neighborhood Association submitted a letter in support, stating that the project–apartment structure “above ground floor commercial”–included an agreement with the association that specifies 34 prohibited commercial, industrial and civic uses within the commercial component.

The association also secured the following commitments from the developer:

  • Applicant agrees to fund vehicle counts and traffic calming devices, or to provide funding in escrow if the city determines traffic calming is not yet warranted.
  • Applicant agrees to partner with Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corp. to provide notification of affordable unit vacancies to help long-time neighborhood residents stay or return to the neighborhood.
  • A percentage of the affordable units will be two- or three-bedrooms.  

Michael J. Whellan of the Austin law firm Armbrust & Brown, PLLC represented the developer. 

“Although we have not designed the building yet, we are exploring the ability to have the affordable units in the same pro rata of mix of the one and two bedrooms as the market rate units,” Whellan said.

Whellan said that the proposed height of the apartment complex would be 57.5 feet. The building footprint, parking surface and other hardscaping will total 95% impervious cover.

Two buildings on site will need to be demolished. These include a commercial building facing Gunter Street that has been the offices of Austin Cab, and a vehicle maintenance garage on the other lot facing Kirk Avenue. 

The current owner of the property, James Means Jr. said that they are in the process of selling the two tracts of property to local based architecture and urban planning firm Bercy Chen Studio, LP.

In a letter submitted to the city, Means said that Bercy Chen Studio will relocate their offices just a few minutes away from the Gunter Street properties so that they can be uniquely positioned to stay attuned to the neighborhood’s needs as they oversee the project’s construction.

Bercy Chen Studio, LP is proposing to build the apartment complex on the acquired two tracts of land with 10 % of the units (approximately 27 units) at 60 % of the city’s area median family income.

The Austin City Council is set to vote for approval on the commission’s recommendation at their Dec. 3 meeting. 

VBX Project ID: 2020-7DD2


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By |2020-11-11T14:07:30-06:00November 11th, 2020|Construction Preview, Feature Story|

About the Author:

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.

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