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  #1  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 1:41 AM
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AUSTIN | The Austonian | 683 FT / 208 M | 56 FLOORS | T/O

Name: The Austonian
Location: 200 Congress Avenue
Height: 683 feet
Floors: 56 floors
Use: condominiums and retail.
Units: 188
Completion: 2009
Website: http://www.theaustonian.com/

The Austonian




REAL ESTATE

Austonian to tower over downtown
Proposed 55-story luxury condo tower will be Austin's tallest building when completed in 2009.


By Shonda Novak
AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Austin's skyline is about to undergo its biggest change in history.

Soaring 22 stories higher than downtown's tallest existing building, a $200 million luxury condominium tower planned for Congress Avenue and Second Street will set a new bar for height and unit prices amid downtown's residential building boom.

Although the design isn't final, the Austonian could rise up to 700 feet, dwarfing the 33-story, 515-foot Frost Bank Tower at Congress and Fourth Street once it's finished in 2009. Construction is set to start late this year at 200 Congress Ave., which is now a parking lot.

The 55-story Austonian would eclipse the tallest residential tower under construction downtown, a 563-foot condominium tower with 44 stories that Atlanta-based Novare Group Holdings LLC and its local partner, Andrews Urban LLC, are building at Third and Nueces streets.

The developer of the Austonian, Second Congress Ltd., an affiliate of Austin-based Benchmark Development, launched its Web site to begin marketing the project Tuesday.

The Austonian's upscale units could set a new benchmark for luxury living in the city's urban core. Though prices haven't been set for the 195 units, they are expected to start at about $500,000 for the smallest units with about 1,200 square feet, said David Mahn, vice president of Benchmark. Prices for the penthouse units would top $1 million.

Mahn said the Austonian's prices would be "very competitive" on a per-square-foot basis with other new downtown condominium projects. Prices also are expected to start at about $500,000 in a mixed-use condominium tower that local developer Tom Stacy plans for Fifth Street and Congress Avenue. Stacy's building, which has no timetable for breaking ground, is expected to rival Benchmark's in height.

Stacy also plans to build a striking glass tower that could rise up to 700 feet.

Mahn said the Austonian developers only recently settled on a 55-story building, which he said worked best from an economic standpoint, although a range of stories was considered during the design process.

The Austonian will have 500,000 square feet of space, roughly half the amount of a regional shopping center. A variance from the city will allow the developer to build a project with about double the square feet that existing zoning would have allowed.

Designed by Ziegler Cooper Architects of Houston, the building will be an elliptical glass and masonry tower atop a lush garden deck, with a pool area overlooking Congress Avenue. The high-rise will be topped with an illuminated architectural feature, which is still in the design stage.

In addition to a concierge and valet service, the building will offer residents workout facilities and a private area for meetings or parties on the top two floors.

With units in most of the downtown condo projects priced high, some developers have been shooting for more moderate starting prices. Prices for Novare's condo project, for example, will range from $190,000 for a 785-square-foot unit to $550,000 for a 1,638-square-foot unit.

Mahn said he expects the Austonian to appeal to a broad range of buyers, including many who work downtown.

"We think this is the perfect live/work/play/shop location," Mahn said.

The Austonian is one of at least four residential high-rises that developers plan to break ground on this year in downtown Austin as they seek to meet what they say is continued robust demand for urban living.

Several other condo and apartment projects are under construction downtown, and scores more are planned or under way near downtown as the condo craze spreads south and east.

That has led some to question whether the downtown condo market might be at risk of getting overbuilt, a phenomenon that has hit other cities, including Miami and Boston.

But Charles Heimsath, a local real estate expert who consulted on the Austonian project, said demand for downtown condos in Austin remains strong, "with each new project selling out in record time."

"Demand for the most expensive units in the existing projects has been slower, but none of them have been a 'super luxury' project on Congress Avenue," said Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research. "I feel confident that the Austonian will be well-received by the market due to its extensive amenities, views and very high level of finish."

If all the planned units were to start at the same time, "then I think we might be facing an overbuilt high-end market," Heimsath said. "However, every project has its own unique attributes, pricing and market appeal, and that differentiation, along with the fact that the time between project completions is staggered, should keep the market strong."

Developers report healthy sales at their projects. At the Shore, a 23-story condo project under construction at Red River and Davis streets, only 10 of the 192 units are left, with prices ranging from $350,000 to $765,000, said Ian Stonington, the project's sales manager.

Seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong is an investor in the $55 million project, which is being developed by High Street Residential, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co. Armstrong has reserved a unit on an upper floor.

At Bridges on the Park, a condo project CLB Partners is building at South Lamar Boulevard and West Riverside Drive, 47 of the 104 units are under contract with non-refundable earnest money representing 5 percent of the purchase price, said Bobby Nail, the Austin partner for CLB Partners.

Another luxury condo project, the 20-story AquaTerra next to the Hyatt Regency on Town Lake, will break ground once buyers are lined up for half of the 173 units. The developers have said they expect to reach that goal early this year. The units are priced from $350,000 to $1.2 million.

Spring, a condominium tower at Third and Bowie streets, has 780 reservation holders for its 240 units, said Larry Warshaw, a partner in the 41-story project.

With downtown housing largely out of reach for middle-income buyers, some city leaders have voiced concerns about the area becoming an enclave of the well-heeled.

"It becomes a challenge to justify significant taxpayer investment in downtown if it becomes an urban Aspen or Vail," said Council Member Brewster McCracken. "It is in everyone's interest, including downtown property owners, that downtown developments include a broader range of housing prices than we're seeing currently."

Mahn concedes that the Austonian's starting prices will cut out some prospective buyers.

But he said Benchmark has and continues to build much more moderately priced housing elsewhere in Central Texas, including condominium projects in East and South Austin with partner Terry Mitchell. Those will have prices starting in the low $100,000s.

snovak@statesman.com; 512-445-3856


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Last edited by KevinFromTexas; Oct 26, 2007 at 10:55 AM. Reason: Update
     
     
  #2  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 2:12 AM
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Hilarious that they mention the palace (sheraton) hotel addition in SF.
Anyway, great news for Austin. Looks good.
     
     
  #3  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 2:42 AM
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Austin. Man you guys have so much happening. ANOTHER new potential tallest.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 3:13 AM
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I just got off the phone with Shonda Novak. She says there will be a 2nd larger part to this article on Statesman.com tomorrow. Yipee, I helped with the rankings!
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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 4:19 AM
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I really like this design. Compared to some other Austin tallest proposals, I am most fond of this one. It's sleek, modern and stylish. It reminds me a little bit of Q1 in Gold Coast City, or MGM Constellation Place in Los Angeles.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 4:55 AM
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The design is to die for.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 7:58 AM
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Here is the extended version of the article from yesterday. Shonda Novak had contacted me for information about how this building would rank across the country among other residential towers. Although they didn't list any rankings in the article, I was still happy to assist.
http://www.statesman.com/business/co...4downtown.html

She seemed to be enthusiastic about the tower. She noted over the phone that "This thing will be beautiful."

I LOVE this design. I liked this tower from the beginning. Considering what they've done in the Houston area, I knew Zielger Cooper Architects wouldn't let us down. Very nice design here. Note the overhanging crown just below the very top floor. That is going to be such a nice feature on our skyline.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 3:53 PM
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An initial rendering was leaked to the press last year. The designers stressed it was far from finalized, which is evident in the updated renderings. Here's a side-by-side comparison. You can see the base has changed, and the tower itself integrates much more glass than before, which gives it a much sleeker, modern look.



I also put together a very crude photoshopping of the original design last year, as viewed within the overall skyline. Compared with the renderings posted in today's statesman, the scale is not far off...though a bit shorter (and wider). This shot is taken from the I-35/Ben White Freeway flyover about 3-4 miles south of downtown



This scale on this one was a bit off (shorter, and wider), but the placement in the skyline is about right. This is taken from the Myers track stadium on the UT campus, north of downtown

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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 5:49 PM
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The website is up and there are additional renderings...

http://www.theaustonian.com







Press Release:


The Austonian

Focus on Luxury Urban Living, Environmental Features and Panoramic Views

Austin, Texas (January 23, 2007) –
Second Congress Ltd. today announced its newest residential

development, located in Austin at the Northwest corner of Congress Avenue and 2nd Street. The Austonian, a projected $200 million mixed-use, luxury high-rise condominium development, is scheduled to break ground the Summer of 2007 with an opening date of 2009. This project will be a welcome addition to the dynamic revitalization plans underway for the Second Street Retail District in downtown Austin.

"Luxury living is all about convenience and vision combined with elegance,” said David Mahn, project vice president for Second Congress Ltd. “The Austonian is going to be just that. It will offer a complete package of unmatched features and amenities in terms of its address and convenient location, important environmental green aspects, views that will be afforded to every resident, revitalization of the Second Street District of Austin, and an extraordinary architectural design and ‘wow-factor.’ We believe the
Austonian has it all.”

Designed by Ziegler Cooper Architects of Houston, The Austonian will be an elegant, 55-story, elliptical high-rise tower designed with a glass, stone and masonry window wall system atop an urban garden deck on Congress Avenue. At the top of the building, an illuminated architectural roof element will complement the Austin skyline.
“We are privileged to offer to Austin a downtown housing experience that we believe improves people’s lives. With over 28 restaurants, substantial retail, cultural activities and 5 million square feet of office space within a five-minute walk, one can live, work and play without ever getting in a car,” said Terry Mitchell, strategic marketing director for the project. “While the views are extraordinary, we are most excited about the City of Austin becoming a leader in redefining how we can live in a compact city environment with much less of an impact to our beautiful hill country,” he declared.

Construction plans for The Austonian will include important green building innovations, such as a rainwater capture and recycling system, in addition to reduced building emissions. Currently, there are 195 luxury residences with distinctive floor plans, plus compelling interior design selections on the drawing board. The property is being exclusively represented and sold through Austin-based Gottesman Residential Real Estate. Additional features will include a resort-style outdoor pool located in an urban garden area above street level with a conservatory encompassing an outdoor promenade sundeck and cabanas. The top of The Austonian will feature a first-class workout facility and a breathtaking, scenic gathering place that is exclusive to residents. Here, residents can conduct meetings or entertain guests while enjoying
breathtaking panoramic views. Project plans for The Austonian also include a private screening room, conference center, guest suites, and game room. There will be a secure dog park and a host of other personal services and amenities as well.

About Benchmark Development and Second Congress Ltd.

Benchmark Development


(Benchmark) located in Austin, Texas, is the principal of Second Congress

Ltd. Benchmark is a full-service development company, creating award-winning, single-family, condo, office, retail, and mixed-use projects in both the suburban and urban in-fill markets. Projects include “Plum Creek,” a 2200-acre traditional neighborhood design mixed-use community in Kyle, Texas.

Benchmark, a subsidiary of Grupo Villar Mir in Spain, specializes in reviving the great American neighborhood and fostering community interaction between citizens and local businesses.
# # #

For more information on The Austonian, please visit


www.theaustonian.com. For media inquires and

additional high resolution renderings and images contact:


Judy Schmidt
Levenson & Brinker Public Relations
214-932-6066 or 972-261-8004, judy.schmidt@levensonbrinkerpr.com
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2007, 8:16 PM
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I love it...it looks very Chicago in my opinion. I just wonder, do Austinites really want the city to look like Dallas and Houston? I like Austin being height challenged.
     
     
  #11  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 1:43 AM
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that's amazing! It fits so well too. Awsome!
     
     
  #12  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 5:03 AM
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HUGE improvement over the original, IMO. Now get it built.
     
     
  #13  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 11:53 AM
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I really love this design. Oh, man, I hope it gets built.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 4:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trvlr70 View Post
I love it...it looks very Chicago in my opinion. I just wonder, do Austinites really want the city to look like Dallas and Houston? I like Austin being height challenged.
Honestly, seeing as this is only 700 ft., i think its still gonna take a whole lot for austin's skyline to be in the ranks of dallas or houston, but i see what you mean. i too like austin's smaller skyline.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 5:42 PM
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Memories are short, though. It wasn't until around 1980 that Houston cracked the 700' barrier, then Dallas a few years later.
     
     
  #16  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 4:04 AM
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Actually, Houston saw their first 700+ footer in 1971, but the bulk did come in the 80s. The first 700 footer in Houston was the One Shell Plaza at 714 feet and 50 floors. It was the tallest building in Texas from 1971 to 1980.

One Shell Plaza

Dallas saw its first 700+ footer in 1974 with the Renaissance Tower at 710 feet and 56 floors. That building was Dallas' tallest from 1974 to 1985. In 1987 it was added onto to become their 2nd tallest and it also became the first 800 to 899 foot building in Texas after the additional height.

Renaissance Tower
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  #17  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 5:46 AM
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I really like it - please let it be built!
     
     
  #18  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 3:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas View Post
Actually, Houston saw their first 700+ footer in 1971, but the bulk did come in the 80s. The first 700 footer in Houston was the One Shell Plaza at 714 feet and 50 floors. It was the tallest building in Texas from 1971 to 1980.

One Shell Plaza

Dallas saw its first 700+ footer in 1974 with the Renaissance Tower at 710 feet and 56 floors. That building was Dallas' tallest from 1974 to 1985. In 1987 it was added onto to become their 2nd tallest and it also became the first 800 to 899 foot building in Texas after the additional height.

Renaissance Tower
And Austin saw its first 700+ footer in 2009 with the Austonian at 700 feet exactly and 55 floors. This was the tallest building in Austin from 2009 to 20--.

Austonian

On a different topic, did you know that One Shell Plaza doesnt show up on Google Earth, and there's a thread about buildings like that. Its labeled that the Citigroup Center doesn't show up on Google Earth, which it doesnt. :
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  #19  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 9:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StatenIslander237 View Post
And Austin saw its first 700+ footer in 2009 with the Austonian at 700 feet exactly and 55 floors. This was the tallest building in Austin from 2009 to 20--...
...2010 when Tom Stacy cut the ribbon on his new downtown Austin skyscraper.
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  #20  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2007, 7:36 PM
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amazing tower! reminds me of a vancouver type building...
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