Austin has come a long way from when the Frost Bank Tower was crowned the city's first World Class skyscraper by the Austin Chronicle in the early 2000s.
There's now a whole slew of developers trying to make their mark on the capital city's downtown. With announcements of new towers coming out left and right since the beginning of the year, we rounded up some of the most prominent shaping the skyline.
Block 16, 201 San Jacinto Blvd.
While Block 16 is one of the shorter office towers set for downtown with 43-stories, it's out to impress with designs that prioritize wellness and sustainability. That includes access to light and air on each floor and 10-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. Plus, a fitness facility, meeting areas and dining options. Carr Properties teamed up with local partner Manifold Development for this building expected in spring 2026.
Perennial, 204 E. 4th St
This 46-story office building dubbed the Perennial will have a public paseo, a nearly 30 foot waterfall and a sky garden where future tenants will have access to views 200 feet above downtown. The developers, Cielo Property Group, told Austonia they set out to create an environment that could boost moods and mental health once it's completed in late 2025.
The Republic, 401 W. 4th St.
An extension of Republic Square is coming in the form of a 48-story tower. Workers who arrive by bike will have access to a private elevator leading to storage space for bicycles and a spa-quality locker room with showers. And the developers, Lincoln Property, say future tenants can also anticipate amenities like a lounge, conference rooms and a fitness center.
321 West, 321 W. Sixth St.
Similar to the others going up downtown, 321 West will have space for residents on the upper floors. With 58 stories in total, out-of-town developers Tishman Speyer and Ryan Companies plan to have apartments on floors 22 through 54. The rest of the building, which is slated to be finished in late 2024, will have office and retail space.
Hilton Luxury Conrad hotel, 300 East Second St.
(Williams New York)
Sixty-five stories in all, this building doesn't just have height. There will also be a fitness studio, pool and spa with condos taking up floors 39 and above with a Hilton Conrad Hotel for the rest of the floors. On the ground, guests, residents and passers-by will be able to enjoy the restaurant and retail space. No estimated completion date has been revealed.
Sixth and Guadalupe, 400 W. 6th St.
(Sixth and Guadalupe)
This combination of office, residential, retail and outdoor space involves over "a million square feet of excellence" and Meta plans to occupy a good chunk of it with 33 floors leased. Currently, finishing touches are being put in place with the top-off of the development at level 66 expected for the fall. The extravagant resident side will include studios to three bedrooms, 24 penthouses with exclusive benefits, pools, a dog park and even a podcast studio. Interested tenants can sign up for pre-leasing information with projected move-ins starting in spring 2023. When it is complete, it will be Austin's tallest tower.
Name To Be Announced, 98 Red River St.
(Kohn Pendersen Fox Associates/Lincoln Property Co./WGI)
This 74-story project headed by Lincoln Property Co. and Kairol Residential could eventually become the tallest in Texas. With a price tag that could end up around $520 million, it'll include more than 350 apartments, a 251-room hotel and 686,000 square feet of office space. Trail closure notices set an estimated construction time of 64 months, according to Towers; construction had not started as of last month.
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Flyers are less satisfied with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport than a year ago, a new study shows.
Research firm J.D. Power placed ABIA at No. 15 on a list ranking overall customer satisfaction at large airports, a slip from last year’s spot at No. 7. Other Texas airports secured rankings ahead of Austin, with Dallas Love Field at third, Houston Hobby at eight, and San Antonio International Airport at ninth.
Dallas/Ft. Worth ranked eight in the "mega airport" category.
The study examined airports based on the following factors: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
On a 1,000-point scale, Austin-Bergstrom received 785 points this year compared to its score of 819 in 2021.
Passenger experiences at Austin-Bergstrom have been influenced by population growth in Central Texas, which has brought record traffic and longer wait times at TSA. And a recent power outage at Austin-Bergstrom caused flight delays. Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power., said that consumer satisfaction with flying has decreased overall.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” Taylor said.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, commented on the ranking.
“We're grateful that AUS customers continue to rank our airport above average, especially during this year that saw air travel disruption here in Austin and across the globe as airports, airlines and the air travel industry continued navigating the impacts of the pandemic,” Grimmett said. “We look forward to delivering near-term and long-term improvements through our Journey With AUS program to improve the passenger experience.”
That program is slated to bring a new midfield concourse to increase gates and connect to the Barbara Jordan Terminal through an underground connector tunnel.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.