AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s skyline is about to change again. Just months after the Independent became the city’s tallest building, two new projects got design approvals.
A 66-story high-rise at Sixth and Guadalupe Streets, currently named 6th and Guadalupe, would include a mix of office and residential space.
The other is an office and retail building right next to Republic Square Park. The Republic’s plan submitted to the Austin Design Commission shows it’ll be 46 stories.
“Right now, we’re really tight on office space downtown,” Troy Holme, executive vice president at CBRE, said. He said there’s enough demand for office space in Austin’s Central Business District, and as the city continues to grow, he said, “You don’t want your city to be turning away viable companies that want to come here because of lack of space.”
The 6th and Guadalupe designers told KXAN getting the Design Commission’s approval was key.
“There really aren’t that many true mixed-use buildings,” Chi Lee, senior associate and studio director at Gensler, said. “It’s usually mostly something, and a little bit of something else, whereas this one is half of one, half of the other.”
Lee explained right now, most buildings in downtown are either mostly office or mostly residential. The 6th and Guadalupe will have both. “The first part is parking with lobby and ground level retail all along Sixth Street,” Lee said. “The next part, which is about 20 something levels, is office, and then the last part, which is about 30 levels or so, is multi-family for-rent apartments.”
They’re also adding as many green spaces as possible. “We have this collection of sky gardens that are really unique in the city that doesn’t really exist really anywhere in Austin,” said George Blume, design director at Gensler.
“As we grow, as we get denser, it just makes sense that downtown is going to go more vertical,” Blume said. “People are going to move into more vertical spaces, but people still need connection to the outdoors.”
According to the Downtown Austin Alliance, seven years ago, just 7,000 people called downtown Austin home. Now, close to 15,000 people live there, and that’s expected to double by the year 2030.
Many people who already live downtown said it makes sense to build more homes and offices in the Central Business District.
“I think a lot of people are valuing the time spent commuting and not having to do that more, as well as you’re just kind of in the middle of everything,” said Walter McAndrew.
He said his commute is a 4-minute walk across the street.
“When I first moved here, I actually stayed in hotels in different areas of the city to see what the drive was to here, and none of them were good. So I decided to move downtown close to work,” he said.
In response to news that two new projects got approved by the Design Commission, the DAA said, “Downtown Austin continues to be an attractive place for both business and residential projects. We are excited about the changing skyline and opportunities for density and walkability downtown.”