Tallest tower yet planned for Austin skyline


Highlights

Proposed tower would soar 850 feet, eclipsing the Austonian and the so-called “Jenga tower.”

The high-rise would have about 300 upscale apartments atop office and retail space.

Lynd Development Partners and Lincoln Property Co. are partnering on the proposed project.

A San Antonio-based developer is planning to build an 850-foot-tall skyscraper in downtown Austin, which would be the city’s tallest building.

Lynd Development Partners is teaming with Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. on the proposed mixed-use tower, which is planned for 600 Guadalupe St., Lynd’s president and CEO Michael Lynd Jr. told the American-Statesman. The building would have more than 300 luxury apartments atop office and retail space, Lynd said.

The tower as currently designed has 62 stories, although there could be more, possibly up to the “mid-70s” range, Lynd said.

At 850 feet, it would eclipse both the 56-story Austonian condominium high-rise, which is 683 feet tall, and the Independent, a 58-story condominium high-rise (nicknamed the “Jenga tower” for its unusual design) currently under construction that is on track to be 685 feet tall.

“We are going to develop a 21st century tower that is truly mixed use in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in all of Texas,” Lynd said. “This will be an iconic tower. We are very excited about this project and its prominent address on Sixth and Guadalupe.”

Along with apartments, the building would have more than half a million square feet of office space, plus ground-floor retail space, Lynd said.

The project is being designed by Gensler’s Austin office.

Austin-based real estate consultant Charles Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research, said, “This is a superexciting announcement on a block that is one of a small handful of full block sites left in downtown.”

There is no official name for the building yet, which is going under the working name of 600 Guadalupe for now. Lynd didn’t have a projected cost for the project, and he wouldn’t comment on financing except to say he’s confident Lynd and Lincoln will be able to obtain it.

The proposed project would be built on the block bounded by West Sixth, West Seventh, Guadalupe and San Antonio streets, now home to an Extended Stay America hotel. Lynd said his company has the site under contract from Extended Stay for an undisclosed price. The hotel was built in 2000, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District, which valued the 1.6-acre site at $19.5 million this year.

Lynd said his company will be submitting plans for the project for review by the city of Austin in the near future. He said he anticipates breaking ground in the next nine to 12 months.

The office portion of the project would open first, with space ready to occupy just over two years after breaking ground, Lynd said. The entire project is expected to take four years to complete, Lynd said.

Lynd said existing entitlements on the site allow for up to 1.1 million square feet of development. The building would be designed to concentrate most of its height on the eastern portion of the tract, to comply with rules designed to preserve views of the Capitol dome.

Lynd said that given the limited number of sites in downtown Austin that are entitled for development, “we felt using as much of the entitlements (as possible) is wise.”

The tower wouldn’t be the first project in downtown Austin for Lynd or Lincoln.

Lincoln developed 5th+Colorado, a new 18-story office tower whose tenants include Indeed Inc. Lynd, meanwhile, partnered with Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group to develop the Bowie, a 36-story apartment tower near West Fifth and Bowie streets.

Heimsath said he believes ample demand exists in downtown Austin to support additional office and apartment development.

“The mix of office and apartment use is exactly what is needed in downtown as both market segments are very favorable for new development at the present time,” he said.

Lynd said his company is in talks with potential office tenants, but he declined to elaborate.

“Given downtown occupancies, there’s a lot of demand in the market,” Lynd said.

Rents for top-tier office space downtown set a record as of June, averaging $54.11 a square foot per year, Cushman & Wakefield said in its latest quarterly office report. Several office buildings are under construction, and a high-profile one recently opened called 500 West 2nd. That tower, whose anchor tenant is Google, has 505,00 square feet of space and is 95 percent leased.

On the residential side, four condominium high-rises are under construction in downtown Austin, as well as a tower with about 200 apartments that Gables Residential is building that will also have a Hotel ZaZa.

With downtown’s apartment supply dwindling and concessions starting to go away as the newest buildings lease up, Lynd said, “we expect to see rents to begin to rise on downtown luxury projects.”

Several apartment towers have been announced for downtown, the most recent being a 44-story high-rise planned for the site where Sullivan’s Steakhouse is located at West Third and Colorado streets, and two apartment towers that a Dallas developer envisions for a site that currently houses the Villas on Town Lake condominiums at the end of Red River Street.



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