Skyloft Austin, a luxury student apartment complex in West Campus, is under fire. Nearly three years after it opened, dozens of lawyers, retirees and others who invested their savings in the building are suing two real estate firms that they say duped them, according to a recent report by the New York Times.
Adelaida Martinez, 82, is retired and lives near the Skyloft. She invested a little over $100,000 in the deal. "I was very naive, as I don't come from the world of finance," she told the Times. "They have not given us any explanation. There is just silence."
The Skyloft investors, who put in between $100,000 and $500,000 apiece, are seeking to recoup much of the $75 million they contributed to the 2019 deal, the Times reported; court filings describe a "Ponzi-like" scheme and accuse Patrick Nelson, of the property management firm that promoted the deal, of using the proceeds to invest in other projects and enrich himself.
In addition to Nelson's California-based property management firm, Nelson Partners Student Housing, the investors are also suing the hedge fund, Axonic Capital, that provided financing and later took control of Skyloft before selling it late last year. Nelson Partners has denied wrongdoing. Axonic said the promoter Patrick Nelson hurt his investors by defaulting on their loan in a statement to the Times.
The investors participated in what is known as a real estate private placement deal, which brokers often pitch to small investors, according to the Times. Such deals are popular because they pay regular dividends and allow investors to defer taxes on property sales, but they lack transparency.
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The original Z’Tejas location on West 6th Street is closing its doors after more than 30 years on the lot to make way for new development.
Z'Tejas owner Randy Cohen told Austonia the restaurant will be open at least through the end of 2022, possibly through March 2023.
Cohen said the owners—Larry McGuire of McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality—of the land have something new planned, though he’s not exactly sure what. Additionally, Cohen said maintenance costs for the old building were becoming prohibitively expensive.
“I think the people who own the dirt will tear it all down and build condos or some other development,” Cohen said. “I mean, it's a 60-year-old building, Z'Tejas has been here for 33 years and before that, it was something else. So it's just progress, that's all."
The restaurant isn’t going away though—Cohen said Z’Tejas is already looking for a new spot in the downtown area to move into. Z’Tejas also has a location in Avery Ranch, another in the works for Kyle and two in Arizona.
“We have all our ducks in a row right now and the management team is all rowing in the right direction,” Cohen said. “We're just excited, we're excited to build this iconic brand back.”
Once he finds a new place, Cohen plans to bring along its mural, “The Last Zupper,” which features Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey and Barbara Jordan. Cohen also plans for the adjoining ghost kitchen, Woo Woo Burgers, to follow to the new downtown location.
“We're still booking events through the end of December,” Cohen said. “Come ‘Z' me at Z’Tejas, we'd love to see you before we’re gone.”
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Two towers could be coming just south of the Austin American-Statesman’s former headquarters in the South Central Waterfront district.
According to city filings, the proposed planned unit development agreement is set for 200 East Riverside Drive, an area Project Connect’s Blue Line is slated to pass by someday.
Carrying this out involves removing the existing building, which is a state office complex and surface parking.
The new towers in place would reach just over 400 feet at their maximum and include office space and space for retail on the ground level. The mix of office and retail is a trend that’s been cropping up in downtown sites like the Perennial and the Meta tower.
The proposal on a plot of about four acres aims to incorporate green infrastructure and create a lively environment for pedestrians. It’d also be adjacent to the 118-acres of the South Central Waterfront Initiative, which is aimed at enhancing connections to and along the waterfront over the next couple of decades.
The filing lists architects STG Design, a group involved with work on the sailboat-like Google tower.
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