Austin: Senior Housing Project ‘La Vista de Lopez’ Matures This Summer
Feature Illustration: Sketch of the west elevation of La Vista de Lopez, superimposed on an eastward view of the project site and surrounding structures. Google Street image with VBX graphics.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Austin (Travis County) — An East Side nonprofit affordable housing organization is nearing completion on plans for a nine-story senior housing project that requires approval of the Historic Landmark Commission.
The Historic Landmark Commission will consider at its regular meeting of July 27 a request for a certificate of appropriateness on the designs for La Vista de Lopez.
This project was first submitted as the “Lopez Tower” to the city for review in October 2018 and underwent technical review through much of 2019. It began as a 26,409-square-foot six-story mid-rise with 24 units and balconies to the north that overlooked a historic house on site. The design included an underground parking garage with 15 spaces.
Over time, however, it has since grown to nine stories above ground and 34 units, plus an amenity community room at ground level that is directly behind and attached to the original house. The underground parking garage is still part of the project.
“We are at the point where the site plan can be approved, however, because the property has historic zoning, the site development permit cannot be issued until your office provides a certificate of appropriateness,” the developer’s architect, Tom Hatch of Hatch+Ulland Owen Architects, stated in a letter to the commission’s Certificate of Appropriateness Review Committee, which met July 17.
The applicant has until mid-August to meet a deadline set by the Development Services Department to get its certificate of appropriateness.
The Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC), as owner/developer, acquired the property in 2015. On site is the Routon-Alvarez-Lopez House, a one-story Victorian that was built somewhere between 1900-1917. The nine-story tower is to be constructed in the backyard of this lot, on a footprint of only .18-acre.
The historic home is to remain, be restored and serve as an amenity center.
“We have made great efforts in the design process to maintain the structural and historic integrity of the Routon-Alvarez-Lopez House; stepping the tower away from the house (despite the incredible site constraints we face), removed balconies, reduced the size and minimized the visual impact of the hallway connecting the tower with the house,” Hatch stated.
The Texas Historical Commission, which can provide tax credit financing, also reviewed the project in the winter-spring of 2020 and found the design “greatly improved and seems to address all of our concerns.”
Civilitude Engineers and Planners has also been involved with the project and the technical review process.
The GNDC project is directly adjacent to the recently constructed Tyndall condominiums. A consequence of this project is that some Tyndall units that face west will lose their scenic views of the downtown skyline.
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.