Three residential towers near Rainey Street could be approved in Austin this week

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council could vote as soon as Thursday to approve three residential towers in the Rainey Street District.

Three separate developers of proposed residential high-rises — 9092 Rainey, 84 East, and the River Street Residences — are asking for waivers to exceed the city’s cap on the amount of square footage that can be built on their lots. City code requires council approval when a project’s floor-to-area ratio (FAR) is greater than 15:1.

A council work session is scheduled for Tuesday before a full meeting of the council on Thursday when the three requests could potentially be approved.

Members of the Rainey Neighborhood Association have called for a pause to the applications, saying the neighborhood lacks proper infrastructure for increased density.

The proposed River Street Residences would be 48 floors and 409 apartment units if approved by the Austin City Council. The project would contribute $1.2 million to the city’s affordable housing fund (Photo courtesy: Trammell Crow Company)

“It seems, to us, that an already dense, crowded neighborhood is just going to get more so,” said Wally Pliszka, a Rainey Street District resident. “The developers will be done. They’ll have their projects done and the neighbors will be left with the congestion, the blocked sunlight, and essentially the inability to move in the neighborhood where we live.”

With a FAR of 32:1, the 9092 Rainey tower project is more than double the city’s cap. The plan calls for 51 floors and 446 condo units with retail space at the base.

The building’s developer, Kevin Burns, said all three projects address a critical housing shortage in Austin.

“Those 440 residences; that’s almost equal to the total number of properties for sale on MLS in a 10-mile radius of this site,” Burns said.

A rendering of the 9092 Rainey project, a proposed 51-story residential condo tower that would add 446 units to Austin’s housing supply (Photo courtesy: Kevin Burns)

Combined, 9092 Rainey, River Street Residences, and 84 East would contribute more than $3 million to the City of Austin’s affordable housing fund, while dedicating 5% of capacity to affordable housing units on site.

Council Member Kathie Tovo, who represents the Rainey Street District, said she has concerns about the infrastructure in the neighborhood and believes developers should have to contribute more to affordable housing efforts if they exceed the city’s 15:1 FAR cap.

“We’re leaving money on the table for affordable housing and we’re really limiting our opportunities for affordable units right then and there,” Tovo said.

KXAN politics reporter John Engel will have a full report at 6 p.m.

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