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Mixed-use project will replace Lamar Village shopping center

After waiting more than 30 years for the right moment, Highland Resources says now is the time to redevelop a key piece of property it owns in Central Austin.

The Houston-based developer plans to a raze the single-story Lamar Village shopping center at West 38th Street and North Lamar Boulevard this summer and replace it with a four-level, mixed-use building that should be open by fall 2015, president and CEO Charles Wolcott told the American-Statesman.

Most tenants in the center have already moved in anticipation of the project, Wolcott said, including Precision Camera and Russell Korman Fine Jewelry.

“We’ve been very happy with the property,” Wolcott said. “It has been performing well for us, so we weren’t in any hurry.”

But with the region’s commercial real estate market tighter than it has been in recent memory – and with more new-to-Austin firms looking for space – Wolcott said he believes Highland Resources now has the “right traction” to move forward.

The new building, which will be called Lamar Central, will include 34,000 square feet of ground-floor space for shops and restaurants topped with three levels of office space totaling 128,000 square feet. Parking will be in a garage with more than 600 spots.

No leases have been signed, but Wolcott said he is “highly confident” in demand for the space.

“There are many people who have wanted to be on this corner for a long time,” he said.

Although the site is adjacent to Seton Medical Center, Heart Hospital of Austin and several medical office buildings, Highland Resources intends to focus its marketing efforts primarily on tech firms, Wolcott said.

“One thing that has been very important to us is to have an innovative property that’s reflective of the city,” Wolcott said. “The conversations we’ve had in the marketplace have led us to believe this space is perfect for tech companies and other forward-thinking companies.”

Amenities in the building will include floor-to-ceiling windows, direct garage access on each floor, buried utility lines, energy-efficient features, a landscaped courtyard with spots for patio dining, car-charging stations, bike storage space, showers and changing rooms.

“Being near downtown – without actually being in downtown – is appealing to a lot of people,” Highland Resources vice president David Bodenman said. “We’re focusing on firms with young workers who are willing to bike, use mass transit or walk.”

In addition to Lamar Central, Highland Resources has several other Central Texas projects, including retail and office complexes and the Highland Horizon and Sendero Springs communities in Round Rock.

“We’re deeply connected to Austin,” Wolcott said. “Our Austin operations are comparable to what we have in Houston. It’s a very important area to us.”

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