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  #21  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2008, 8:49 PM
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Downtown living demand is strong, study shows

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 - 11:37 AM CST
Downtown living demand is strong, study shows
Austin Business Journal

The steel and glass residential towers set to reshape the downtown Austin skyline aren't a pipedream. They're coming--and they're going to be filled, a new study shows.

The analysis from Texas economist Ray Perryman suggests that while the nation battles a housing correction, Austin's residential market remains relatively healthy. Moreover, says Perryman, there is clear demand among Austinites to live in the city's vibrant downtown.

There are currently about 6,000 people living downtown. And with about 4,000 residential units under construction or planned around downtown, that population is expected to double over the next two years. Perryman says with the Austin area adding more than 40,000 new residents annually, the local housing market will continue to fair well, and rising energy costs and traffic woes will drive a growing interest in urban living.

"This housing market will fundamentally support the type of housing being developed downtown," Perryman said at a morning press conference at City Hall organized to discuss the report. "There is an amble population to absorb these units."

Asked whether those who desire to live downtown could actually afford to purchase units, most of which are over $500,000, Perryman says the market is there, particularly among young professionals coming to the area making good money in expanding fields like technology. He pointed out that if less than 1 percent of the entire area population chose to live downtown, they would fill up all of the existing units as well as those being planned downtown.

"We are seeing a remarkable resurgence in downtown Austin," says Mayor Will Wynn, who has been a staunch supporter of drawing more residents to downtown. Wynn calls the blend of condo projects such as 360 and The Austonian and rentals like The Monarch and AMLI 2nd Street a healthy mix. He also points out that projects like the redevelopment of the Green Water Treatment Plant site will include a strong affordable housing component, allowing residents who cannot afford high-priced units a chance to enjoy downtown living.
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  #22  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2008, 8:54 PM
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Enough already with the multiple posts! Exciting as the above is, did we really need to see it in three different places?
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  #23  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2008, 8:57 PM
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HA! ...now we are both filling up space. I posted the wrong article. Delete if you wish [as I don't know how]... Sorry to bother you.... let me know if I mis-pronounce anything as well )
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  #24  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2008, 9:07 PM
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No problem. I really didn't mean to come across as such a curmudgeon, but all the duplication in this forum is sometimes annoying. Oops, there's another post...
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  #25  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2008, 8:12 PM
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More in this week's Chronicle... Plan presentations in May! Sorry to see the height-dissing by Brewster McCracken, though (see bolded paragraph). I think there's room for at least one really tall one there.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrob...d=oid%3A599854

MARCH 7, 2008: NEWS

Developing Stories

Don't Rush Seaholm East

BY KATHERINE GREGOR

City Council is almost doing a big thing so right. Almost.

Our elected officials deserve a hearty round of applause for setting forth their "guiding vision and policy principles" prior to soliciting a request for proposals for redevelopment of the Seaholm East Redevelopment District. That's an excellent beginning. Council has announced loud and clear to the community and future master developers its intent "to ensure that unparalleled excellence and high values are demonstrated and achieved."

A Feb. 14 resolution established council's goals for redeveloping the large tract of city-owned land, and a Feb. 28 follow-up detailed the specific criteria for qualified, national-caliber master developers: depth of resources, strong access to capital, and solid experience in similar public-private projects. Winning teams also must distinguish themselves for design and creativity, affordable-housing solutions, and exceeding the city's goals.

Yet council is now fast-tracking the process in a manner that threatens to sabotage its own goals. On Tuesday, March 4, the city hurriedly issued a Request for Proposals from developers, along with a compressed schedule that culminates in a selection decision by June. Likely responders to the RFP include Trammell Crow/Constructive Ventures, Endeavor, Stratus, Catellus, Cherokee, Forest City (with Peter Calthorpe), and Colonial.

What's the rush? Austin will get only one shot at this crucial redevelopment, which will take many years to complete. The city should take the time – a few months at least – to first translate its own vision and principles into a solid land-use plan, based on community-generated values as well as market realities. The fast-track schedule satisfies a desire to let the current council select the developer – but in five years or 20, that consideration will mean nothing next to the quality of Seaholm East.

Promoting Public Values

Council intends to turn the land into about six new city blocks, which would knit together the emerging Seaholm redevelopment, to the west, with City Hall and the emerging 2nd Street retail district, to the east. The 7.7 acres house the defunct Green Water Treatment Plant and an adjacent Austin Energy facility. Sited across Cesar Chavez Street from Lady Bird Lake, the existing utility facilities are anachronisms in a revitalizing Downtown. The council resolution designates the 1.4-acre AE substation site for a new stand-alone central public library. The city plans to sell the remaining 1.7-acre AE control center site and the 4.5-acre Green WTP property to one private master developer.

Because the prime land is owned by the city – that is, by all of us – and worth many tens of millions, Seaholm East represents a tremendous and rare public resource for advancing community goals, aspirations, and values. The council's key goals include top-notch urban design and architecture, public spaces, sustainable/green building, transit connectivity, city-owned parking, and (most recently) on-site affordable housing.

Among the goals listed are "community values, public facilities, and/or public benefits," but those remain undefined. How will the community prioritize its own most-desired values, through what process – and who decides when the standard of "unparalleled excellence" has been met? Another goal is "maximized taxpayer value" through "maximum scale" – implying the troubling and unproven suggestion that optimal value-creation equals erecting skyscrapers.

One council member bullish on a medium-height plan is Brewster McCracken. "The ROMA Downtown Plan report gave us the important realization that achieving density doesn't have to mean height," said McCracken recently. He wants to see the city adopt the Mueller neighborhood plan – another public-private development partnership on city-owned land – as the model for Seaholm East. "As Mueller builds out, it's a timely reminder that we know how to incorporate and promote public values, with our public redevelopment projects," he said. "Every one should be an enactment of our community values."

Downtown revitalization has been so successful and swift, McCracken points out, the city needs to update its initial goals of simply attracting new employers and housing. For example, in selling the city-owned Block 21 to developer Stratus Properties three years ago, the city's primary goals were achieving economic development and a strong urban fabric. The still-unbuilt project includes a high-dollar W Hotel and residences (with concierge poodle-walking service) but no housing affordable to average Austinites. "We're now promoting wealthy people's housing," McCracken lamented. "Government doesn't need to use public land for that."

A Place For Everyone

McCracken says council members want instead to make Seaholm East "a place for everyone." But how? A developer understandably has a vested interest in making a profit, but that alone can become a conflict or at least curtail creative thinking. A key problem with issuing a request for proposal (rather than a request for qualifications) is that it leaps to a specific solution. That can dangerously shortchange master-planning: the critical first phase in which broad goals get identified, prioritized, and translated into a workable program.

Yet the RFP schedule gives development teams just eight weeks (from March 4 to April 30) to propose a full-blown development plan. Between May 12 and 28, council is scheduled to hold up to five special-called meetings for public presentations by the proposing teams. Council would select the winning master developer June 19.

If it's serious about achieving "unparalleled excellence," council should contract first for its own land-use plan – to which master developers then respond. That's exactly the process followed at Mueller: The city hired consultants ROMA Design Group (urban planning) and Economic & Planning Sys tems (market realities) to translate city and community goals into the Mueller master plan, prior to issuing the master developer RFP. The outcome at Mueller is becoming the pride of Austin. By comparison, the city failed to require a community-vetted land-use plan as a condition of providing similar city tax-increment financing at the Domain. As McCracken said of that project, "Popular sentiment is at best neutral." Who takes pride in subsidizing a Tiffany's?

Integral to the Mueller outcome is the Mueller process: Community involvement occurred early and meaningfully, and citizen advisers continue to stay the course. If the community-input process to shape Seaholm East occurs only after a developer proposal is selected, the greatest opportunity will have been lost. To date, just one community group has pushed and helped refine council's vision for Seaholm East: affordable-housing advocates. In response, council revised its draft resolution to add on-site affordable-housing requirements. How many other smart and dedicated community voices might further refine the Seaholm East vision, given a real chance? If we don't invite them to the table now, we'll never know.
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  #26  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2008, 9:22 PM
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I would actually rather see some height at Seaholm than at Green. Still have some 200 footers about the height of AMLI on 2nd. But at Seaholm have one closer to The Monarch's height.
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  #27  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2008, 9:36 PM
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Putting stuff downtown which pays large amounts of tax revenue is, or damn well ought to be, a public goal and of itself. The Austonian is going to pay for a lot of libraries, or affordable housing elsewhere, or for that matter, will make up for a lot of blocks covered in stupid state and UT uses.
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  #28  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2008, 9:46 PM
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Originally Posted by M1EK View Post
Putting stuff downtown which pays large amounts of tax revenue is, or damn well ought to be, a public goal and of itself. The Austonian is going to pay for a lot of libraries, or affordable housing elsewhere, or for that matter, will make up for a lot of blocks covered in stupid state and UT uses.
Isn't that a conundrum when affordable housing is tax subsidized, has lower sale prices which bring less tax revenue.
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  #29  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2008, 4:15 AM
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From the Austin American-Statesman
http://www.statesman.com/business/co...reenwater.html

REAL ESTATE

Developers lining up for Green project
City is speeding up timeline for downtown redevelopment site

By Shonda Novak

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Developers, start your clocks.

The city is adhering to a speedier-than-usual timeline for bidders competing for a choice downtown real estate opportunity — the redevelopment of the Thomas C. Green Water Treatment Plant at West Cesar Chavez and San Antonio streets.

In addition to local interest, the project is expected to attract national attention.

Proposals to transform the plant, which is being decommissioned, are due April 30. Developers would make presentations to the City Council starting May 14, with the council expected to select a winning bidder June 19.

"It's beyond fast track... but we fully intend to keep this pace," Byron Johnson, the city's purchasing officer, said after a meeting Monday in which city officials outlined the vision for the project.

And in a first for the city, the conference was videostreamed. Johnson said the city received more than 20 calls from interested viewers in such places as California and New York.

"We anticipate significant national interest, just based on overtures we've received over the past couple of years as the national and international development community heard we were considering redeveloping that property," said Fred Evins, project manager for the Green redevelopment in the city's Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office. "I think it's a reflection of our overall economic health and the vitality of our downtown," which is experiencing a retail and residential resurgence.

The city sees the six-acre redevelopment as pivotal to the revival of a once largely industrial part of downtown that is getting housing, shopping, entertainment and cultural and civic attractions, including a new central library and a new home for KLRU and its "Austin City Limits" music show.

Ultimately, Green is seen as a key link in the city's vision to connect downtown's western edge to the Austin Convention Center via the planned extension of Second Street.

Developers who plan to pursue the project include:

Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc., developer of the Frost Bank Tower downtown.

• Catellus Development Corp., which is redeveloping the 711-acre former Robert Mueller airport.

• Stratus Properties Inc., which will team with AMLI Residential and architect Larry Speck of PageSoutherlandPage. The city picked Stratus to develop Block 21, the block just north of City Hall, which will have a W hotel, upscale condos and a new home for KLRU's "Austin City Limits." AMLI has two apartment projects on each side of Stratus' future project.

• Simmons, Vedder & Co., which has several large mixed-use projects built or planned in Central Texas.

• Larry Warshaw and Perry Lorenz with Austin-based Constructive Ventures Inc., which will team with Trammell Crow Co. Warshaw and Lorenz are co-developers of Spring, a residential tower under construction west of Green. Trammell Crow is the developer of the Shore condominium high-rise downtown.

Representatives of Colonial Properties Trust and Hines Interests were also at the meeting.

The city is asking, at minimum, the preliminary $41 million appraised value for the 4.4 acres being offered in four parcels at the site and an estimated $14.5 million for a fifth parcel, the nearby Austin Energy Control Center, which will be relocated. City officials said those figures are subject to change.

The winning team would pay for the extension of Second Street from San Antonio Street to Shoal Creek and the extension of Nueces Street to Cesar Chavez Street, plus other utility infrastructure work, all of which is preliminarily valued at about $18 million, Evins said.

So far, the price isn't deterring prospective bidders.

"It's a fantastic piece of property, and there's only a finite amount of that left downtown," Lorenz said. Although such private-public partnerships can be challenging, Lorenz said, "We'll sharpen our pencils and we'll get there. It'll be tough, but it's doable."

The city will weigh more favorably proposals that include rental housing, Johnson said. That's because the city would require 10 percent of those units to be "affordable" by federal guidelines: within reach of people making 80 percent or less of the area's median family income — or about $57,000 for a family of four and about $40,000 for an individual.

With that provision, "We have a chance to embrace the city's values," Matt Whelan, senior vice president of Catellus, said last week.

The Green site, he said, "is a key piece of real estate, (in) a vibrant part of downtown."

Johnson and Margaret Shaw, deputy director of the city's Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department, said the city is not dictating what they want to see built at Green, but rather is soliciting developers' best ideas.

With few moderately priced housing options downtown, "for me the exciting part is that the City Council has named" affordable housing as part of its vision for the project, Shaw said.

"We look forward to hearing proposals that include housing for working families too," Shaw said.
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  #30  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2008, 4:41 AM
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From the Austin American-Statesman
http://www.statesman.com/business/co...28seaholm.html

REAL ESTATE

Austin close to deal with developer for Seaholm project
City would pay for $18.6 million of $117 million deal.

By Kate Miller Morton

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, March 28, 2008

The City of Austin and the local group it chose to redevelop the Seaholm Power Plant and surrounding property three years ago are close to reaching an agreement that would allow the $117.2 million project to move forward.

The proposed deal, which the City Council will probably vote on next month, calls for the development group to pay $98.6 million, or 84 percent of the cost of the project, with the city paying $18.6 million.

The city money would be used to build a 315-space parking garage on city-owned land just west of the Seaholm site. It would also pay for street and utility improvements and public plazas, and to offset the cost of renovating the Seaholm Power Plant, which the city would continue to own.

The city would raise most of its money by dedicating all of the property and sales taxes generated by the project and revenue from the city-owned parking garage for 30 years.

The development group would be responsible for all costs associated with the planned 22-story hotel and condo tower and a two-story office and retail building. Those properties would be sold to the developer.

The City Council will hear a public presentation on the agreement April 10. The public can view the proposed plan on the city's Web site: www.ci.austin.tx.us/seaholm.

Assistant City Manager Laura Huffman emphasized that the deal has safeguards for the city if development doesn't go as planned, including termination and repurchase rights in the event of major delays and defaults, and a prohibition on major changes of uses. A completion guarantee also requires a private investment group to either complete construction or raze the uncompleted buildings and reimburse the city for money already paid out if the developer failed to perform.

Three local companies are behind the development group. Commercial developer Southwest Strategies Group did the Penn Field mixed-use development on South Congress Avenue. Residential developer Centro Partners helped build luxury apartments at the Domain. La Corsha Hospitality Group is the hotel management and consulting company founded by Jeff Trigger, ex-managing director of the Driskill Hotel.

Getting all of the paperwork done might be the hardest part of the project, joked the development group's managing director and Southwest Strategies principal John Rosato, who in the past three years had to refute several rumors that the deal was dead.

But, he said, the delays aren't that surprising given the complicated nature of the deal. "The main issue is that it's a very unusual endeavor for the city to enter into a joint venture and provide (financial) support to save a historic structure," Rosato said. "It's not a cookie-cutter partnership."

Built in the 1950s and decommissioned in 1996, the Seaholm plant sits on about 8 acres along West Cesar Chavez Street overlooking Lady Bird Lake. The location is prime, but the redevelopment will not be easy, particularly renovating the 136,000-square-foot art deco plant building.

"It was built incredibly well to be an industrial power plant," Rosato said. "Converting that type of a structure to another use will be very challenging."

The massive concrete building with its 65-foot cathedral ceiling is largely below grade. Creating the planned office, retail, restaurant and event space involves adding restrooms and elevators as well as modern electrical and heating and cooling systems without changing the iconic facade.

Renovation is expected to cost $23.6 million while yielding just 99,000 square feet of usable space.

Further complicating matters are two Capitol view corridors that limit buildings to just two stories on nearly two-thirds of the site.

Rosato hopes the group will be able to start construction by this time next year. If that happens, construction could be completed in 2011.
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  #31  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2008, 4:42 AM
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See the plans here:
www.ci.austin.tx.us/seaholm.
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  #32  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2008, 6:14 PM
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Video clip from Myfoxaustin.com of the redevelopment of Seaholm. They have some models of the area. One apparently shows the hotel/condo tower at Seaholm.

The Seaholm segment is in the 2nd half of the video.
http://www.myfoxaustin.com/myfox/pag...Y&pageId=3.2.1
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Old Posted May 7, 2008, 5:56 AM
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Bid proposals have been released today for the redevelopment of the Tom Green Water Treatment Plant and Austin Energy Electrical Substation in downtown Austin. Five companies are bidding for the project that will add hundreds of thousands of square feet of mixed use space including up to 1,000 condominiums and apartments and even a brand new downtown full purpose grocery store.

The City of Austin is expected to select a proposal in June. Construction would start in about three years since the aging water treatment facility would have to be replaced.

From the Austin American-Statesman
http://www.statesman.com/news/conten...0507green.html

Big plans for Green Water Treatment Plant
Five big names with five big plans for Green Water Treatment Plant

By Kate Miller Morton

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Proposals for the redevelopment of the Green Water Treatment Plant and Austin Energy Control Center are in, and no matter who wins, big changes are coming to the landscape and skyline of downtown Austin.

Five isolated blocks of city-owned land bounded loosely by the Seaholm Power Plant and San Antonio, Fourth and Cesar Chavez streets will become a residential, commercial and cultural hub in the biggest single development ever downtown.

About 1,000 apartments and condominiums will be built, including a significant number of low to moderately priced units.

Hundreds of thousands of square feet of new office space and several blocks of ground-floor retail will transform the dormant western edge of downtown after construction begins in about three years.

The total appraised value of the land is $55.5 million, but the city did not release the amount each team offered to pay for it. City Council members are scheduled to select a developer by the end of June.

The proposals made by Catellus Development, Forest City, Simmons Vedder Partners, Stratus Properties, Trammell Crow and their respective partners have some things in common. But each also has elements unique to its plan. "Each one of the five has something that is different from the others, that's distinct to that proposal," Council Member Brewster McCracken said. "It's really amazing."

Trammell Crow and partners Constructive Ventures and USAA Real Estate Co. propose the biggest and tallest buildings with the most parking. Their plan also includes the most diverse uses, with space for a 350,000-square-foot hotel and a 250-unit senior assisted living facility in addition to condos, apartments, offices and retail businesses. Five public gathering spaces could accommodate as many as 2,700 people.

Stratus Properties' proposal includes a two-story H-E-B grocery store, with H.E. Butt Grocery Co. serving as a limited partner in the project.

"We think H-E-B being a full-service grocery store is something everybody can afford, it helps every one of those retailers in the area and it makes residential more viable," said the team's attorney, Steve Drenner.

A movie theater and bookstore would also help drive more traffic to the Second Street retail district.

Stratus and partner AMLI Residential are proposing the largest number of rental units, which they say would let them offer housing in a greater range of prices, and they plan to offer medical office space not found downtown. Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, a partnership of Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Magic Johnson Enterprises, is also a part of this team.

Simmons Vedder proposes a waterfront art park and four bridges over Shoal Creek, including two for pedestrians only.

This team, which includes Cotera + Reed Architects and Bury + Partners Engineering Solutions, also proposes to essentially turn the buildings into power plants by installing solar panels in the skins of its towers. It plans to use water collected from the condensation of air conditioners to flush the toilets.

Catellus Development has proposed a primarily residential project with 500,000 square feet of office space and nearly 200,000 square feet of retail. But the company is also offering to collaborate with city leaders and the community to develop a final master plan for the property that could differ significantly from its initial proposal.

"We're going to present something we think is really neat, dynamic, progressive and all of that, but with that said, if we are selected we're going to say, 'Let's go out and spend time and hear from the city what they really want and hear from stakeholders what they really want,' " Catellus President Greg Weaver said.

Forest City, which is partnering with Novare Group and Andrews Urban, emphasizes public spaces with a grand plaza at Second and Nueces streets complete with a fountain and transplanted moon tower. A grand staircase inspired by the Spanish Steps in Rome would connect the plaza to the trail along Shoal Creek, which would run from the Austin Energy site north of Third Street to Lady Bird Lake.

The master developer of the Stapleton Airport site in Denver and the 9,000-acre Mesa del Sol mixed-use project in Albuquerque, N.M., also promotes a more collaborative approach.

"We're partners with dozens of cities all across America," Forest City Vice President Jim Truitt said. "We fund our own projects, we build them and we own them ourselves. ... It makes us more compatible with cities' goals and objectives."

All five teams will present their plans to the City Council at a special meeting this month. The City Council plans to pick a winner using an evaluation matrix that awards points for different elements including development experience, access to capital and quality of design.

Bonus points will be awarded for public parking and affordable housing.

The city required developers to offer at least 10 percent of all rental units at a level affordable to households making no more than 80 percent of the area's median family income, or $56,900 for a family of four.

All five teams have pledged to exceed the city's requirement, though some provide much more detail about how that would be done.

The Trammell Crow team, for example, plans to make 25 percent of its rental units affordable under the 80 percent guideline and also plans to make a donation to the city's affordable housing fund for every condo it sells, estimating total donations could reach about $2.5 million.

The Stratus group would make 15 percent of its rental units available to households under the 80 percent requirement, reserve 5 percent for families making as much as $82,900 and allow the city to buy up to 5 percent of its condos at cost.

"This will significantly change the accessibility of downtown away from being just a place for rich people," McCracken said.

Although the city has imposed an unusually short time frame for the selection of a development team, the redevelopment of the sites won't begin for several years. The city won't be able to turn over the water treatment site until 2010, and the Austin Energy site won't be available until 2011.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Renderings and map of area:


MITHUN


CATELLUS DEVELOPMENT GROUP


BOSSE AND TURNER ARCHITECTS


COTERA AND REED ARCHITECTS


Larry Speck/PIRATE DESIGN

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  #34  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 6:17 AM
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I've merged the Green Treatment Plant and Seaholm Power Plant threads since these two areas have sort of molded together in the news and discussion.

This is one hell of a project. Austin's going to be #3 in the skyline territory in Texas once everything is said and done.
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Old Posted May 7, 2008, 10:39 AM
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I like those green roofs on the MITHUM proposal. We need to see a lot more of that in the future on all buildings.
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  #36  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 1:28 PM
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I like those green roofs on the MITHUM proposal. We need to see a lot more of that in the future on all buildings.
I do, too. This is pretty awesome!

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Old Posted May 7, 2008, 3:24 PM
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^Yea, that is the best looking proposal in my opinion, I wonder how much of it's energy needs will be met on site. I can only imagine how many people could be living there, and if truly meets affordable needs then this would be the best news for those of us that want that lifestyle but aren't in the right income bracket.
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Old Posted May 7, 2008, 3:59 PM
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AH! An H-E-B in downtown Austin, and a nice one at that! But everyone seems to likes the MITUN project, which admittingly does look the best. The green looks awesome.
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Old Posted May 7, 2008, 4:27 PM
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I do, too. This is pretty awesome!

That is the Trammell Crow/Constructive Ventures proposal (Mitun is their architect).
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Austin (City): 842,592 +6.60% - '10-'12 | Austin MSA (5 counties): 1,883,051 +9.72% - '10-'13
San Antonio (City): 1,382,951 +4.18% - '10-'12 | San Antonio MSA (8 counties): 2,277,550 +6.30% - '10-'13
AUS-SAT "CSA" (13 counties): 4,160,601 +7.82% - '10-'13 |
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  #40  
Old Posted May 7, 2008, 4:39 PM
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jaga185 jaga185 is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: San Antonio, Tx
Posts: 1,483
I see, either way, I love their proposal.
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And I will swallow my pride.
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