Apartment project set for old Treehouse site off Barton Springs Road

9:52 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 Business

A site that has sat empty for three decades along Barton Springs Road is poised to be transformed with 74 upscale apartments that would have pricey rents and views of downtown Austin’s skyline

Located atop a bluff at Barton Springs and Dawson roads, the site once housed a trendy restaurant and club, Mackendrick’s Treehouse, which opened in the late 1970s.

Greystar and Dominion Advisors told the American-Statesman that they will jointly develop the project, with plans to break ground in the first quarter of next year after obtaining a building permit from the city of Austin.

Steffen Waltz, a director of Dominion Advisors, an Austin-based real estate investment firm, and his family have owned the property since May 2000.

Dominion Advisors had various plans for the site through the years, including a proposed high-end condominium project that was shelved during the economic downturn.

The entitlement process included a legal dispute with the city that was eventually settled.

In 2015, amid an ongoing apartment building boom in the Austin market, Dominion brought apartment developer Greystar on board.

After a change of architects, Dominion and Greystar now have a new design for a residential project they have named 1155, after its address on Barton Springs Road.

The development will feature units with an average size of 1,700 square feet and estimated rents of more than $5,000 a month, on average, although final numbers have not yet been determined.

“We feel that we’re addressing the need the marketplace has for larger apartment rental units,” Waltz said. He said the project is expected to appeal to a wide demographic, ranging from young professionals to executives to empty-nesters.

Waltz said the project will adhere to existing city development approvals for the property, which include a height limit that was part of a negotiated settlement in a legal dispute with the city.

The project will consist of two buildings — one with six levels and one with four stories — connected by a skybridge. The project is expected to take about 22 months to complete.

A filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation puts the estimated construction cost at $38 million. Dominion and Greystar are close to selecting a lender for the project, Waltz said. He declined to quote a projected cost for the entire project.

Along with the 1155 site, Dominion also once owned the neighboring Park Terrace Apartments property, and put both sites on the market in 2012. Dominion ended up selling only the apartment site, in 2013.

The original Treehouse restaurant was built 1977. It later closed and reopened at least twice, including in 1983 under the name Lola’s, but closed for good in early 1987.

Waltz said the location is “top notch,” near performing arts venues, restaurants, Lady Bird Lake and other cultural and entertainment attractions.

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