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Wanted: Developers With Vision

4 Aug 2015, 10:00 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Aerial View of Block 71

Aerial View of Block 71
(from southeast looking northwest)

A makeover is in store for a prime parcel in the heart of Austin. The University of Texas is inviting developers to reinvent a tract known as Block 71.

The 1.6-acre parcel is bounded by West Seventh, Colorado, West Sixth and Lavaca streets. Block 71 encompasses two office buildings, four garages, and an open-air plaza with a fountain and live oaks. When the university relocates to its new $102 million headquarters on the north side of West Seventh Street in 2017, the parcel will become available for redevelopment.

The request for qualifications process offers candidates an opportunity to outline a basic vision for the redevelopment, which could include a mix of residential, office and retail components.

Scott Kelley, the university’s executive vice chancellor for business affairs, noted in a statement that officials will review RFQ submissions over the next four weeks. Qualified candidates will then be asked to submit detailed proposals, and the university expects to select a project by the end of the year.

Image courtesy of the University of Texas

McCann Realty Makes Local Debut

4 Aug 2015, 8:54 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

2401 Grove Apartments

2401 Grove Apartments

McCann Realty Partners  has broken ground on its first Austin multi-family project.

The three-story, garden-style property, dubbed 2401 Grove Apartments, will be located on 18 acres at 3707 Manchaca Road, at the corner of Grove Blvd. and Montopolis Drive. Residents will able to select from 156 one- and two-bedroom units available in three floor plans ranging in size from between 679 square feet to 947 square feet.

 ”We were drawn to this location because of its proximity to downtown Austin and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport,” said Matthew Akin, president of the Richmond, Va.-based company, in a prepared statement. “We see Austin as a lifestyle market that is driven by strong population and employment growth.”

Unit amenities include energy-efficient solar screens, walk-in closets, vaulted ceilings, private balconies and patios, and wood laminate floors. The community will offer free bike rentals and racks, fitness center, dog park, barbecue and picnic area, business center, resort-style swimming pool, and sun deck with cabana.

Leasing is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2016, followed by delivery during the second quarter. McCann Realty acts as its own general contractor and Pegasus Residential, LLC will be the property manager.

Image courtesy of 2401 Grove Apartments

New Westin Hits a High Note

29 Jul 2015, 4:58 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The Westin Austin Downtown - Downtown Austin Hotels

The Westin Austin Downtown – Downtown Austin Hotels

Austin’s vibrant music scene is a constant inspiration, and that influence is on full display at Westin Hotels & Resort’s second property in the city. Located at the corner of San Jacinto Boulevard and Fifth Street, the Westin Austin Downtown opened on July 16.

The 19-story hotel is a joint venture among White Lodging Services Corp., the Harry Whittington family, and REI Real Estate Services L.L.C.. Guests can choose from 366 contemporary guest rooms and suites and relax at Azul, the city’s tallest hotel rooftop pool and bar with cabanas and fire pit, and a fitness studio.

The hotel also features Stella San Jac, an Austin-American restaurant serving eclectic Southern cuisine. More than 13,500 square feet of meeting and banquet space are available, including 16 individual meeting rooms named after famous Austin musician or venues.

The Westin Austin Downtown - Hotel Lobby

The Westin Austin Downtown – Hotel Lobby

“We wanted to pay homage to all Austin has to offer, and, of course, music is a huge part of that,” said Kristofer Carlson, general manager of the property, in statement. “Most of the inspiration comes from vintage guitars, so you’ll see many parts of the hotel subtly reflect various guitar components.”

Simeone Deary of HKS Architects Inc. designed the hotel with distinctive music-themed elements, including a 12-foot-tall art piece composed of charred wood blocks that come together to form the body of a guitar; a vertical garden that mimics the cutouts of a Dobro; a guitar-string staircase; and a ballroom floor that evokes the patterns found on guitar straps.

“The new Westin Austin Downtown has already enabled us to make advances in both the size and quality of groups that we are now able to attract with the additional inventory,” said Bob Lander, president & CEO of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Images courtesy of Westin Austin Downtown

Sonesta Creates Buzz in Bee Cave

29 Jul 2015, 4:18 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin

Sonesta Bee Cave Austin

Greater Austin is in no danger of running short on hotel accommodations any time soon. On the contrary, the area is on track to add about 2,000 upscale guest rooms by the end of 2015, a growth spurt that will bring the total inventory to about 33,000.

Contributing to the growth is the newest member of the Sonesta Collection, the 195-key Sonesta Bee Cave Austin located adjacent to the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave.

The seven-story boutique hotel is 20 minutes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and in the middle of the Hill Country Galleria, a 1.3 million-square-foot mixed-use development that incorporates dining, shopping, entertainment, office space and residences.

The property is operated by Boston-based Sonesta Hotels and Resorts. Adrian Overstreet is the head of the ownership group and former managing partner of Hill Country Galleria. John Dallas, a veteran of Marriott and Hilton properties around the country, serves as general manager. Gensler designed the property, which was constructed by Zapalac/Reed.

Image courtesy of Sonesta Bee Cave Austin

Dobie Center Gets its Second Wind

28 Jul 2015, 10:25 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The Dobie Center

The Dobie Center

Forty-three years after opening, Dobie Center has a promising future ahead. San Francisco-based Fowler Property Acquisitions recently acquired the 27-story high-rise near the University of Texas campus and plans to rebrand it Dobie 2021.

The Carlton Group of New York sold the property at 2012 Guadalupe St. for an undisclosed price. Senior managing director Tucker Knight and managing director Corby Chaffin of Berkadia handled the financing and told Bisnow that the deal’s financing generated substantial interest from banks and life companies. Knight and Chaffin locked in a $58 million loan with Bank of America at a five-year term instead of the typical three-year loan to support $10 million worth of renovations planned by the new owner.

“Our investment cycle had run its course and we are happy to see Fowler take Dobie Center to its next level of success,” Carlton Group chairman Howard Michaels said in a statement.

Dobie Center incorporates private student dormitories, 90,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a six-story, 250,000-square-foot parking garage. Under Carlton’s ownership, the Dobie Center received a series of upgrades, including a conversion of a vacant cinema into a 13,000-square-foot business center.

Image courtesy of The Dobie Center

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