The developer behind an effort to build two tall apartment towers next to Interstate 35 in East Austin has withdrawn his request for zoning changes that would have made the high-rise project possible.
Representatives of the developer for One Two East filed the withdrawal letter late Wednesday, bringing an end to the contentious fight with the historically African-American neighborhoods that surround the site, which had feared the project would intensify the gentrification that has pushed many longtime residents out of their homes.
“(East Austin) neighborhoods are happy he decided to withdraw that particular request,” said Tracy Witte, the secretary of the Organization of Central East Austin Neighborhoods.
The developer of One Two East, Haythem Dawlett, and City Council Member Ora Houston, who opposed the project in her District 1, weren’t immediately available for comment Thursday.
The letter didn’t provide a reason for the withdrawal or indicate what might be next for the property. Dawlett has previously said that if was denied he might build a more traditional apartment complex, Witte said.
The nearly 3-acre site, which sits between 11th and 12th streets on the I-35 frontage road, is currently home to a commercial strip that includes a bingo hall, a Mexican restaurant and a CVS drug store.
Dawlett’s original plans called for two apartment towers, expected to be 15 stories tall, which would have had 472 luxury apartments, expected to be priced between $1,900 and $3,500 a month. He said that he would dedicate one of the two towers to housing retirees and that 17 of the apartments — about 4 percent — would be priced more moderately. He also wanted to build a grocery store at the site.
“Anyone can go downtown and build a high-rise apartment, office or condo tower,” Dawlett said in a December interview. “Here, I’m trying to create a lifestyle for people who are older,” he added, promising amenities such as an indoor pool, physical therapy rooms, a dining hall and yoga classes.
In order to build the project, Dawlett had asked for zoning changes that would have allowed him to build a bigger project, including upping the height limit at the site from 150 feet to 185 feet.
With Houston in their corner, landowners around the site fiercely contested the project. Its massive size, they feared, would inundate their neighborhoods with traffic, serve as another barrier between downtown and East Austin, cast a permanent shadow over nearby properties and destroy heritage trees behind the site.
Houston told the American-Statesman in December that there’s “got to be another way” for Dawlett to build a viable project without “impacting the quality of life for the neighborhood that we say as a city we want people to have.”