Posted: Dec 21, 2006, 4:10 PM
Join Date: Jul 2002
Austin Riverside Dr. Condo Tower - Now Underway
The old Wellesy Inn Hotel on the south shore of Town Lake (NE corner of Riverside Drive and I-35) is about to undergo demolition, making way for a new condo tower complex. The tallest building will top out at around 110' This is long in the making....
Goodbye inn; hello $1 million condo
Demolition to begin, making way for $70 million condo development on East Riverside.
By Shonda Novak
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Within a few weeks, demolition is scheduled to begin on the Wellesley Inn & Suites to make way for a $70 million development where the first condominiums will cost from $700,000 to $1 million.
The 254-unit luxury condo project along East Riverside Drive is also expected to expedite a long-awaited extension of the Town Lake hike-and-bike trail.
The developer, Constellation Property Group, plans to donate all furniture and fixtures in the 115-room inn to the SafePlace domestic violence shelter and Habitat for Humanity. Demolition is scheduled to start in late January.
Constellation received approval earlier this year from the City of Austin for its Star Riverside project, slated for four acres at the northeast corner of East Riverside Drive and Interstate 35 along Town Lake's southern shore.
The project is part of a residential building boom of apartments and condominiums in and around downtown, a trend fueled by buyers as diverse as young professionals and empty nesters seeking an urban lifestyle.
The stretch of East Riverside Drive between I-35 and Lakeshore Boulevard is attracting keen interest because of its proximity to downtown and Town Lake and its lower land prices. Some developers are converting apartment projects into condominiums, while others are planning projects that would add thousands of residential units.
Constellation's project will have four buildings, the tallest of which will be 110 feet, or 11 stories, said Chris White, a senior associate with Constellation, an Australian firm with U.S. headquarters in San Diego.
Constellation's earlier plans to build as high as 200 feet drew opposition from some neighborhood groups.
The tallest building will be the one nearest the interstate. A 90-foot building will be closest to Riverside on the southeast side. Two 60-foot buildings will replace the motel. There also will be a three-level underground parking garage for 400 cars.
Construction is expected to start in mid-2007 on the first phase — two 60-foot buildings with 68 units. Most of those units will have three bedrooms and average 1,500 square feet, with prices from $700,000 to $1 million. The first residents would arrive in mid-2008, White said.
Work on the second phase, the 90-foot building, is expected to start in mid-2008, with the final phase starting a year later. Pricing has not been set for those condos, which would have one and two bedrooms.
Constellation says it will grant an easement to the city to extend the hike-and-bike trail, which advocates eventually would like to see linked with the trail at Lakeshore Boulevard.
The company also says it will donate $250,000 toward a boardwalk or pontoon bridge on the river beneath I-35. This would close a gap in the hike-and-bike trail that now forces runners to cross a busy intersection. The multimillion-dollar boardwalk project, which could be a few years away, would connect the trail from the east with parkland west of the interstate.
"Closing the Riverside gap will make the trail a lot more useful and will help the entire trail system handle the increased use from the residential developments that are happening downtown and along the trail," said Griffin Davis, chairman of the Town Lake Trail Foundation, which has been working with Constellation.
If other developers along Riverside Drive and Lakeshore Boulevard follow Constellation's lead, "it will create an outstanding east-west pedestrian hike-and-bike corridor into downtown, finally tearing down the physical and symbolic barrier I-35 creates between east and west Austin," said Dan Garrison, a foundation member.
To address neighbors' concerns about adding traffic to an already heavily traveled intersection, White said the entrance and exit to the condos will be from a side street, Manlove St.
Further east, near Riverside and Lakeshore and south of Town Lake, Cypress Real Estate Advisors Inc. plans to build a $400 million to $500 million development with townhomes, condos and apartments. Austin-based Cypress hopes to start construction in late 2007, adding about 2,500 residential units over eight years, said Steve Clark, a Cypress partner. The developer plans to have buildings of varying heights, including two of up to 12 stories.
Prices for the condos and townhomes would start in the low $200,000s, and rents would start at about $1,100 a month.
Clark said the less expensive land will enable Cypress to build a project with more moderately priced units than downtown, where he said condos typically start in the low $400,000s.
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