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Apartment project set for evolving area of East Austin

7EAST also will include retail, commercial space

A mixed-use project that will bring 186 high-end apartments to East Austin is set to break ground Wednesday.

Ardent Residential and Stonelake Capital Partners are developing 7EAST, which will be built on East Seventh Street between Chicon Street and Robert T. Martinez Jr. Boulevard. That area is undergoing a transformation into a entertainment district as a number of restaurants, bars and music venues have opened there, including Qui, Takoba, LaV, Eastside Showroom, Salt & Time and Justine’s.

In addition to apartments, 7EAST will have nine street-level commercial spaces for small businesses and shops. The first apartments are expected to be ready for tenants by the summer of 2015, with the entire project due to be completed in early 2016, said Brett Denton, a principal in Ardent with Art Carpenter. The project is being designed by LRK Architects.

Ardent and Stonelake Capital Partners purchased the land in November 2012. Stonelake, a private real estate investment firm that is 7EAST’s co-developer and owner, and Ardent, Stonelake’s development partner, did not provide a cost for the project.

A run-down warehouse was torn down to make way for the new development, which comes as parts of East Austin continue to gentrify, including new apartment projects that are bringing hundreds of upscale units east of Interstate 35.

Not far from the 7EAST site, for example, Transwestern is redeveloping the former Arnold Oil on East Sixth Street into Eastside Village — a four-story mixed-use project that will have 384 apartments and 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus an office building with 94,500 square feet of space. The site is across from the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station.

For 7EAST, Ardent and Stonelake Capital Partners worked with surrounding neighborhoods to gain support for a zoning change that the Austin City Council approved in January 2013. The project will include some units with rents within reach of families earning 60 percent of the area’s median family income.

Gavino Fernandez Jr., president of the El Concilio Coalition of Mexican-American Neighborhoods, said the coalition gave its support for the zoning change after the developer agreed to several concessions, including prohibiting loud music permits on the property and alcoholic beverage sales by any commercial tenants, and diverting all parking away from the surrounding neighborhood.

Overall, the project met the spirit of a city of Austin neighborhood plan for the area, he said.

“It’s a great economic injection for all Seventh Street businesses as they try to rebound from the latest downturn when the city took almost two years to rebuild Seventh Street, causing several small business to close shop,” Fernandez told the American-Statesman. “Plus, it will remove an eye sore that was in our community for many years.”

In addition, the project will add to the most recent completed beautification and rehabilitation of Seventh Street, one of the gateways to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Fernandez said.

“We eagerly await our new 7EAST neighbors to our rich Mexican-American community,” Fernandez said.

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