An Austin-based developer plans to start construction early next year on a 260-unit luxury apartment complex on Lady Bird Lake’s south shore, west of Interstate 35.
CWS Capital Partners will demolish a 145-unit apartment complex that currently sit on the 4-acre site at 300 E. Riverside Drive to make way for its project, which will consist of a six-story building and two levels of underground parking, said Greg Miller, vice president of investments for CWS, a real estate investment and development company. The building will be about 75 feet tall, although zoning rules would allow CWS to build up to 96 feet, he said.
Rents in the new mid-rise building will average about $2,000 a month. Rents at the existing complex to be razed are about $1,300 a month on average, Miller said. The project does not yet have an official name, and Miller declined to release an estimated cost.
Currently, there are no plans for another phase of the project, which would involve redeveloping 3 acres on the same site where another older apartment complex sits at 222 E. Riverside Drive. Zoning rules on that tract allow for a variety of uses, including residential, hotel and office.
CWS is donating 1.5 acres on the site to the city of Austin to continue the popular Lady Bird Lake hike-and-bike trail through its project. The trail will then link to the boardwalk now under construction on the lake.
CWS anticipated starting its project in 2009, but delayed it due to the recession. Now it will join a wave of apartment construction that is under way across Central Texas, with more than 12,600 units under construction across the region and many more units in the planning pipeline.
As initially proposed in 2006, CWS’ project stirred controversy with a neighborhood group and the Save Town Lake waterfront advocacy group, which formed to oppose CWS’ plans for three towers of up to 200 feet tall and developing within 80 feet of the lake.
With attorney Richard Suttle Jr. representing CWS, a compromise was reached in 2008 that capped building height at 96 feet and calling for any development to be at least 150 feet from the lakeshore.
“It’s great when the neighborhoods and Save Town Lake Association come together with the landowner and come up with a plan where everybody wins,” Suttle said Friday. “This project sets the standard and the pace for development on the south shore.”
Although other new development is springing up south of downtown near Lady Bird Lake — including an apartment high-rise next to the Hyatt hotel and another apartment project slated for the former RunTex site — CWS’ project is closest to the lake. Miller said he expects more development to continue south of the lake, due to demand from people wanting to live close to downtown but not pay downtown rents.
Miller said the CWS project is “an example of a project that can work and be built” within the city’s waterfront development rules.
“Projects can be built and be successful without exceeding the waterfront overlay heights,” said Miller, who sat on a task force that made recommendations to the city on waterfront rules.
After the compromise was reached on its site in 2008, Miller said: “We will forfeit some buildable square feet, but in return, we will have a project that is embraced by the community at large. The trail and the lake are so unique to Austin; it helps expand the soul of the city.”