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
Big plans for Green Water Treatment Plant
Five big names with five big plans for Green Water Treatment Plant
By Kate Miller Morton
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:
CATELLUS DEVELOPMENT GROUP
BOSSE AND TURNER ARCHITECTS
COTERA AND REED ARCHITECTS
Larry Speck/PIRATE DESIGN