In a sign of the robust demand for downtown Austin living, one of the city’s most high-profile condominium projects is now sold out.
The last unit in the Four Seasons Residences is under contract, one of a handful of pending sales due to close by the end of the month, said Alan Holt, director of sales and marketing for the 148-unit luxury condominium tower.
The sellout of the 32-story tower, which is next to the Four Seasons Hotel and overlooks Lady Bird Lake, is evidence of the continued strong demand for downtown living, Holt, developers and other real estate experts say.
Developed by Atlanta-based Post Properties Inc. and Austin -based Ardent Residential, the Four Seasons Residences is one of three “ultra luxury” condo towers built downtown in recent years. The others are the condos in the W Hotel & Residences behind City Hall and the 56-story Austonian high-rise, Austin’s tallest building at Congress Avenue and Second Street.
David Ward, executive vice president of Post Properties, said the company is “very pleased with the results we achieved at the Four Seasons Residences.” The project started construction in early 2008 during the recession, and opened in 2010.
“We knew that the brand would be key to our success,” Ward said in an email. “We weathered a very difficult market extremely well, and we were able to achieve an average sales price of over $625 per square foot” — $1.25 million per home on average.
The total sales value was more than $185 million, Ward said.
“The demand for downtown housing, especially at the high end, has been very strong,” he said.
In the past few years, Holt said, downtown has evolved from being a “cool, hip place” into a thriving neighborhood withresidents residents whose options for dining, shopping and entertainment have increased exponentially in recent years amid a surge of new development.
Charles Heimsath, a real estate consultant who conducts market studies for many downtown developers, has been tracking the sale of new condominium units downtown over the last three years.
“It is truly remarkable how strong the market has been, in spite of the initial slow recovery of the ‘for sale’ market,” Heimsath said. “With very limited new supply on the ground, this would be an excellent time to start construction on a new tower. I haven’t signed any contracts for new condominium feasibility studies, but there is a growing interest among developers who are tracking downtown.”
Only six residences are available for sale in the W, ranging from just under $1 million to $2.75 million, said Beau Armstrong, chairman and CEO of Stratus Properties Inc., the project’s developer.
“Demand is very strong. As crazy as it sounds, I wish we had five more floors to sell,” Armstrong said in an email. “Downtown living in Austin has firmly taken hold. The restaurants, parks and entertainment options make it a very special place to live.”
But downtown living doesn’t come cheap. At the Four Seasons, condo prices ranged from the $500,000s to upwards of $3 million, Holt said.
Holt said the limited supply of newly built condos downtown — currently there are no condo projects in the planning pipeline — is pushing prices higher.
Post Properties brought Holt on board in 2011, when just over half the units in the Four Seasons Residences were sold. Holt said he sold about 70 units in all — about $100 million of the $185 million total.
It’s the fifth project Holt has sold out in downtown Austin since the late 1990s, the dawn of downtown’s initial residential wave.
In addition to the Four Seasons project, Holt has sold out the condominiums in the Hilton Austin downtown; the Plaza Lofts; and the Brazos and Avenue lofts, both pioneering condo-conversion projects downtown.
Holt was tasked with selling the Plaza Loft project in the early 2000s during the tech bust — the toughest economy he said he’s seen in Austin. More than half of the buyers who had contracted for units wanted to back out, Holt recalls.
“Every one of those, we had to renegotiate. We saved almost all of them. It brought us tremendous goodwill.”
Now, after 16 years spent marketing other developers’ projects, Holt plans to start his own residential real estate company, specializing in sales in Central Austin and, of course, downtown.
“Downtown Austin continues to cultivate a really great quality of life,” Holt said. “Austin has become so much more dynamic, and it keeps feeding on itself. We’re still at the front end of something big.”