A mixed-use project with 97 condominiums is under construction at Fourth and Chicon streets, part of a continuing surge of new development in East Austin.
Family members of the late Roy Butler, a former Austin mayor, are providing capital for the $45 million project, which they have dubbed Fourth& (pronounced ‘Fourth And.’)
The development is being built on 2.2 acres one block from the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail stop and near the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, less than a mile from downtown Austin.
Austin-based Capsa Ventures is developing the project, which is due to be completed next summer.
Capsa, headed by founder and CEO Rance Clouse, has built three other communities in Austin: 904 West, Pease Place and Towns on Cumberland, the latter two for which the Butler family also has provided capital.
The new project will feature what Clouse calls “Texas-sized microunits” with just over 500 square feet and prices starting at $248,500, as well as larger live-work residences with just over 1,400 square feet, the most expensive of which is $585,000.
To date, prospective buyers have signed contracts for more than 40 percent of the units.
The three-story building will include 42,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.
Capsa is touting what it says is an unusually high number of green-building and energy-saving features, such as recycled steel, energy-generating solar panels, rainwater gardens for water collection, energy-efficient windows and appliances, and 100 percent LED lighting.
The energy savings from the solar panels are “a huge selling point,” said Mark Kendrick, a real estate agent with Canvas Properties who is marketing the units. “Rising utility costs are a real concern for buyers these days.”
Kendrick said he was so impressed with the project that he left another real estate firm just to sell the new units.
Amenities will include a movie-theater lounge, conference rooms, on-site management, a pool, electric vehicle charging stations and a dog wash area.
The project is on track to receive the second-highest rating on Austin energy’s green-building scorecard, Clouse said, adding that the project features “some of the best construction methodology and materials on the market today.”
“Where most low-rise developers use traditional wood framing, we are using a concrete structure, steel framing, and solar panels for every residential unit. We are truly changing the way Austin is built,” Clouse said.
Doug McGregor, who is handling the sale of the commercial space in the project, said he hopes to attract a small grocery store, a bicycle shop and other local businesses.
“We’re focused on businesses for East Austin,” said McGregor, a commercial specialist with Austin-based Canvas Properties.
Tracy Greene and her husband, Jacob Hendrickson, are so excited about their planned move into a microunit that they visit the site every week and take pictures.
Now both almost 30 years old, they grew up in Austin and lived in the San Francisco Bay area for about three years after college in a 300-square-foot studio.
“It was our favorite place we’ve ever lived,” said Greene, now a visual designer at RetailMeNot. “We loved being in a small, curated space, surrounded by our favorite things. And we lived on a street where everything we needed day-to-day was walkable within a mile — and then walkable to more via public transit after that.”
After moving back to Austin, they adopted two dogs and bought an 1,100-square-foot house in Crestview. Although they like the house, “it’s started to feel big and more house, and more work than we need and want,” Greene said.
As she and Hendrickson, a teacher at Odyssey School, traveled with their dogs recently, staying in hotels in walkable areas, “we started to really miss and idealize the small-space lifestyle we used to have,” Greene said. “After a recent trip to D.C., I came back to Austin and started researching the smallest places in Austin we could own and I found the micro-lofts at Fourth&.”
The project, she said, “will allow us to walk everywhere, drive much less, and all live in one space with just what we need and just our favorite things, and with less maintenance and fewer to-dos. And we love that the property is built with recycled construction materials and will be solar powered. Everything about living smaller and environmentally minimally is us and we’re so looking forward to the change.”