Ardent Residential Teams with Post Properties to Develop $125M Four Seasons Residences Town Lake Austin

By Maria Siakavellas, Contributing EditorAustin—In the hopes of bringing the lavish living synonymous with the Four Seasons brand to the forefront of Austin’s housing market, Austin-based Ardent Residential has teamed up with Post Services Inc., an affiliate of Atlanta-based Post Properties, to develop the $125 million Four Seasons Residences Town Lake Austin.“This a great opportunity to bring the Four Seasons brand and a building of this stature to the Austin market,” says David Ward, executive vice president of Post, which is providing both debt and equity on the project. “It is a great site and a much sought after one since the early 90s considering its proximity to the CBD, Lady Bird Lake and the Four Seasons Hotel. Finally everything came together for us to purchase the site and work with Four Seasons, presenting a unique opportunity to capitalize on a downtown market that has always been very strong and desirable.”The Four Seasons Residences Town Lake Austin will include 166 luxury condominiums in a 30-story building adjacent to downtown Austin’s Four Seasons Hotel. Residents will enjoy hotel services including in-residence dining, housekeeping services, spa treatments, dry cleaning, full-time concierge and valet parking. Party rooms will connect with the Four Seasons Hotel via service elevators, allowing the hotel to cater functions at the Residences and seamlessly service the entertaining needs of its condo owners. And the project’s extravagance does not end with its connection with the Four Seasons name. Michael Graves is designing the building.“With this quality of site we wanted to make sure we built an outstanding building,” says Art Carpenter, a principal with Ardent Residential. “We have a long standing relationship with Michael Graves and thought it would be a great idea to work with his firm on this.” While most new condo buildings in downtown Austin will, according to Carpenter, “be glass boxes,” he stresses the Four Seasons Residences will boast stone masonry accents to tie into the traditional architecture of downtown Austin. “Our goal is for this to look as great 50 years from now as the day it was completed,” he says. The team of developers broke ground on the project this February and expect to complete the luxury residences, ranging from 880 to 5,500 square feet and $400,000 to $4 million, in 2010. According to Carpenter, making it to groundbreaking was not without its challenges. Initial plans to form a joint venture with hotel/resort investment fund and Four Seasons owner Maritz, Wolff & Co. to develop the property back in 2001, were halted by the infamous tech bust. And once the property was acquired by Ardent and Post, negotiating agreements with Four Seasons as to the details of the residences took much longer than expected.“There aren’t very many Four Seasons Residences in the world,” says Carpenter. “Four Seasons maintains very high standards and is very careful about what sort of projects the company gets involved with. It’s been a long and arduous process to negotiate those agreements,” he adds.As for the adverse state of the nation’s housing market as a whole and, more specifically, skepticism about just how many new luxury condos Austin itself can handle, Carpenter and Ward agree the downtown market has proven quite resilient as of late. A downtown Austin condo sales summary released by Capitol Market Research in January reveals that of the 314 condominiums delivered through December 2007, 96 percent are sold while of the 818 condo units slated for delivery in 2008, 90 percent are currently sold. The Four Seasons Residences Town Lake Austin itself is currently 40 percent sold.“Downtown Austin is really going through a dramatic period of growth with an increased level of peoples interested in moving downtown,” says Carpenter. “There has been some concern that the downtown market was getting overbuilt, but overall the residential market continues to be healthy.”Ward agrees. “We are very bullish on Austin. Historically from the 80s until now there has been a very strong basis here for government and university employment growth. Then in the 90s, Austin emerged with a tech center. Now it’s just reached its own critical mass. The quality of life here really makes Austin an attractive place to both live and work.”