39-story apartment tower planned downtown

More luxury apartments will take up residence downtown, this time in a planned $100 million tower that will rise 39 stories and feature 350 luxury apartments with views of Lady Bird Lake and downtown.

World Class Capital Group is planning its project at Trinity Street and East Cesar Chavez, across from the Austin Convention Center. The high-rise would be the tallest apartment tower in the city and the fourth-largest tower overall, rising seven stories higher than the Four Seasons Residences next door, said Nate Paul, president and CEO of World Class Capital Group.

The company, a real estate investment firm based in Austin, expects to break ground in early 2014 and complete the project in 2015.

“The building will be a signature addition to the Austin skyline and will allow us to maximize the value of our land site,” Paul said. “We look forward to making an iconic addition to the burgeoning Austin skyline.”

Paul said financing for the project is lined up, although he declined to disclose details.

Plans for the new tower come amid a surge of apartment construction both in and near downtown, and suburban locations, as the Austin area continues to rank among the top-performing rental markets in the nation. Developers are adding apartments in Central Texas at a rate second only to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., according to MPF Research, which tracks the market locally and nationally.

Paul said demand is strong for luxury rental units downtown. The as-yet-unnamed project will be unusual in its proximity to the hike-and-bike trail along Lady Bird Lake and the Four Seasons Hotel immediately west, Paul said.

Units will have high-end finishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies and other amenities. The site will not require a zoning change, Paul said, and its height is not limited by rules designed to protect views of the state Capitol dome. A city official confirmed Thursday that no zoning change is needed.

The project will include 14,000 square feet of shops and restaurants on the ground floor. Parking will be on the second through eighth floors. The apartments will start on the ninth floor, which will also have a pool, fitness center and other amenities, Paul said.

A demolition permit is in hand to tear down a warehouse on the site, Paul said.

Demand “continues to be very strong for apartment rentals in and near downtown,” said Charles Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research, a local real estate consulting firm that was hired to conduct a market study for the project.

The recent lease-up success of the Whitley, a high-end apartment tower that debuted this year, and strong leasing at other near-downtown projects including Eleven, Riverview and Gibson Flats, “indicate a continuing demand for luxury apartment living,” Heismath said.

Several upscale apartment towers are now under construction downtown. In addition, Chicago-based Magellan Development Group plans to build a high-rise of between 35 and 50 stories at East Fifth and Brazos streets downtown that would have hotel rooms along with more than 300 residences, likely apartments. Magellan would partner on the project with Wanxiang America Real Estate Group.

When that project made headlines in August, Heimsath called it “terrific confirmation of the vitality of downtown across all product major product types — office, hotel and residential.”

“Austin is probably the only second-tier city in the country where the announcement of a project of this size would be considered viable,” Heimsath said.

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