- Shonda Novak American-Statesman Staff
Same name, new project.
The former St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, which had been a fixture on South Congress Avenue for more than two decades, is about to take on new life as the space is renovated and a three-story building with shops and offices is built next to it.
The project, called Saint Vincent, is expected to break ground in the first quarter of 2017 along a section of South Congress that is seeing a burst of new development, with some businesses relocating or closing.
St. Vincent de Paul operated a thrift store and collection center there before relocating this year to 901 Braker Lane, where it has a larger store and expanded services.
The developer of the planned Saint Vincent project is The Kor Group, teaming with Drake Real Estate Partners based in New York.
The Kor Group bought the property in late 2015 for an undisclosed price, said Matt Green, the firm’s Austin managing partner. Green found and negotiated the sale with The Kor Group’s Jorge Rangel, who is handling leasing for the planned project.
The property is valued at $2.7 million for 2016 by the Travis Central Appraisal District.
Santo del Sur, the investment entity formed for the site, took out a $5.25 million loan, which included the land purchase and some of the development costs, Green said.
On South Congress, plans for the Saint Vincent call for renovating the 5,000-square-foot building where the thrift store had been and constructing an adjacent brick building with two floors of office space totaling 8,800 square feet atop one floor with 6,000 square feet of retail space, Green said. Retail tenants could include clothing and home goods stores and other shops, he said.
The project will include about 30 spaces of surface parking. The existing entrance off Congress will be eliminated and the new entrance will be on East Gibson Street. A second building at the back of the property will be razed.
Green said The Kor Group is not seeking any variances for the project from the city. He said four large live oak trees on the site will be preserved.
The new building, which is being designed by Lake|Flato, is expected to be completed late next year, Green said.
“We’re trying to do something that’s in scale with the neighborhood,” Green said. “Our project will have a boutique feel and the storefronts are going to feel unique.”
Green said the project will be along a three- to four-block stretch of South Congress that is particularly prime because shops and restaurants line both sides of the street.
“Our site benefits from being in the middle of the pedestrian traffic, with the Capitol on the horizon and cool retail on both sides,” Green said. “You have a mix of old iconic businesses and new businesses and lots of entertainment. Everything seems to thrive.”
The Kor Group also is developing the 32-story Austin Proper Hotel and Residences, which broke ground in August and is part of a high-profile project that is transforming the former Green Water Treatment Plant downtown into a mixed-use development.
South Congress is a popular destination for locals and tourists, and not everyone is a fan of some of the new development planned in the area — including one mixed-use project that will displace several local businesses.
But Green, who lives in the nearby Bouldin neighborhood and said he enjoys “hanging out on South Congress,” said he thinks the area will retain its Austin-centric character.
“Change is inevitable, and so far we are heading in a good direction,” Green said. “It’s important to be a good steward of the neighborhood and work with tenants that are complementary to encourage the existing experience versus take away from it. South Congress is the heart and soul for Austin.”