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Seaholm Waterfront project to transform part of Lady Bird Lake into tourist attraction

The Seaholm Waterfront project will see the redevelopment of the historic Seaholm Power Plant intake building, seen on the left, into a public venue. (Laura Figi)

Lady Bird Lake is getting a new project that will bring a new cafe, lake dock and concert venue along the water.

The Seaholm Waterfront project aims to revive a 3-acre space just south of the Seaholm Power Plant, including the historic 1950s Art Deco intake building, into a first-rate public amenity and event venue.

Austin City Council approved the project's master plan—developed by the architecture firm Studio Gang in partnership with the Austin Parks Foundation, The Trail Foundation and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department—back in 2018. After a long wait, members authorized a contract up to $3.2 million with a local construction firm earlier this month, kicking off its first phase.

This rendering maps out the three-acre, waterfront site. (Studio Gang)

Funded by General Obligation Bond and Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars, this phase will focus on ensuring the intake building is "safe and habitable for small programs and events by restoring character defining features and updating the building for code-compliant occupancy," according to the council agenda backup.

(Studio Gang)

It could soon serve as a concert venue. (Studio Gang)

The scope of work includes underwater welding, needed to seal the building's water intake pipes from Lady Bird Lake; historic window restoration; and power washing the facade to remove decades of graffiti.

The contract is set to take nearly a year to complete. Once finished, the building will be able to host events and other activities, even as the second and third phases—which will add a cafe, lake dock and historic gantry crane—get underway.

The 2018 master plan lays out the three phases of the project. (Studio Gang)

The Seaholm Waterfront project builds on the work of the Seaholm Development District, a mixed-use downtown neighborhood that includes the redeveloped Seaholm Power Plant, now used as commercial office space; the Central Library; and a series of new high rises, including the Austin Proper Hotel and the forthcoming Google office building.

The intake building redevelopment is taking a different approach, focusing on "adaptive reuse in the public interest" rather than privatization, according to the real estate news site Austin Towers.

The Seaholm Waterfront project is one of many that will change downtown Austin, including the South Central Waterfront, which includes 118 acres across the lake, and Waterloo Greenway, a forthcoming urban parks system modeled on New York City's High Line.


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