AUSTIN, Texas — A dramatic change is in store for Austin’s skyline, as plans move forward on what now has become a 58-story tower that would be the city’s tallest building and the largest residential tower west of the Mississippi River.
The tower, named the Independent, would rise 685 feet on downtown’s southwestern edge, eclipsing the Austonian condominium high-rise in downtown Austin by two feet and two stories.
The Independent would bring 370 new luxury condominiums to market, priced from the mid-$300,000s to more than $3 million, the developer said. The project features a contemporary, tiered design by its architect, Austin-based Rhode:Partners.
The developers planning the project — Austin-based firms Constructive Ventures and Aspen Heights — said they expect to announce a groundbreaking date and construction schedule within a few months, once financing is lined up.
The tower would be the final piece in the high-profile redevelopment of the Seaholm District, a former industrial area that housed the Seaholm Power Plant and the Thomas C. Green Water Treatment Plant. Now, the area is rapidly transforming with new apartments, condos, shops, restaurants, offices, a hotel, a public library, a Trader Joe’s grocery and more.
City officials say the $2 billion in public and private investment pouring into the area is expected to generate millions of dollars in property and sales tax revenue in coming decades, including more than $62 million for affordable housing.
Beyond the tax revenue, the development in the Seaholm area helps the city achieve its goal of energizing a once-dormant part of downtown into a lively new district.
Perry Lorenz, a principal in Constructive Ventures, said that projects like the Independent, which he estimates will add $300 million in taxable value to the property tax rolls without requiring major new infrastructure, “pay huge dividends to the city and its taxpayers.”
For decades, the Seaholm and Green plants were part of a utility grid that supplied the electricity and water needs of a growing city. Over time, the plants were retired from service and dismantled — though in the case of Seaholm, the 1950s turbine building has been restored as part of the redevelopment.
Margaret Shaw, the city official overseeing the redevelopment of the Energy Control site, said the Independent “sets a high bar, not only in height but in sustainability as well.”
In 2012, the city estimated that the new development at the Energy Control site wouldl produce $45.2 million in property taxes over 30 years, with $18.1 million of that going into the city’s affordable housing fund.
Lorenz said the developers also have donated an easement that will allow the city to complete a gap in the Shoal Creek trail south of Fifth Street.
Just southeast of the Independent site, construction continues on the Green water plant’s makeover. That project will include more than 440 apartments in a 38-story tower rising at West Cesar Chavez and San Antonio streets. Eventually, the 4.4-acre site will house nearly 2 million square feet of new development, including a 35-story tower that will have 250 hotel rooms and 120 condos and an office tower where Google Inc. will occupy more than 200,000 square feet.
City officials have estimated that over the next three decades, Green’s redevelopment will generate $111.4 million in property taxes and $9.6 million in sales taxes for the city.
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