AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of Austin’s most photographed spots could be getting new neighbors. The rocky outcrop overlooking the Pennybacker Bridge in west Austin attracts a steady stream of people on a mission for Instagram likes.
The lake, the bridge and the downtown skyline seem to encapsulate all of Austin in one shot.
And that’s exactly why Jonathan Coon wants to build there.
Vision is what made the 48-year-old rich. He founded 1-800-CONTACTS as a married college student who had trouble paying for contact lenses.
Now, Coon envisions luxury condos and a restaurant on the cliffs overlooking Lake Austin, west of the Loop 360 bridge.
“We just wanted to live here, but couldn’t afford to be the only two people who do,” said Coon about the 145 acres he bought with a partner.
County records value the land at more than $30 million. Coon says they have to develop the land to make the investment worthwhile.
But in a city struggling to stay “weird,” even small developments can face opposition. This particular area, even though it is privately-owned, feels like it belongs to the people of Austin.
Coon plans to use half the land for public park space, including half the 3,100 feet of lakefront.
The plan also includes parking which would, in theory, cut down on the number of people parking illegally on 360 while they hike up the hill for pictures.
“We like leaning into how it’s already being used… And It’s not just an altruistic thing. It’s an amenity for us too. Having a great park next door is going to be good for our residents.”
The plan still needs to be approved by the city. Coon hopes to have that by the fall and to begin construction in late 2019.