90 Feet of Housing in Old West Austin Sounds Like a Good Start – TOWERS


An aerial view of the 1.38-acre property to be planned for the next month on the northwest corner of West Fifth Street and Walsh Street in the Old West Austin neighborhood, west of downtown. Image: Bing Maps

At its meeting earlier this week, the Austin City Planning Commission voted to postpone a reassignment item on its agenda for further discussion next month so that the applicant has more time to discuss the case with the neighborhood in question. Old West Austin a district that is not known for its intensity of growth compared to almost any other near the city center. Still, there’s a lot of potential for replenishment in this area along the corridors of West Fifth and Sixth Streets, especially if you think self-storage buildings don’t do much for the ambience here.

The area in question for re-zoning is a 1.38 acre collection of land in the northwest corner of Fifth west and Walsh streets, currently occupied by several one-story retail buildings. The owners, a group of big Austin investors Jimmy Nassor and Walter Penn along with Endeavor Real Estate Group Executive Director David Roberts, hope for a rezoning with potential 450 unit Multi-family housing project rises 90 feet in height – as part of the area’s neighborhood plan and its efforts to incentivize residential development, a similar commercial project under the same new zoning would only allow for a 60-foot building.

The 30-meter-high Capstar in the Compass Plaza offices to the west of this location is the only building in the neighborhood that reaches a height similar to the potential residential building allowed by this upcoming rezoning process. Image: Harvey-Cleary Builders

Depending on the floor height, a 90-foot height limit could bring about eight or nine stories of multi-family housing into the area and would be one of the few new projects here that has the usual “one-plus-five” configuration – the only other building in the neighborhood that is currently so tall is the 30-foot Capstar at the Compass Plaza office building in 1703 Western Fifth Street. As we’ve seen with other recent projects in the general field, once a building gets a little taller than the five or six stories of the typical “Texas Donut” – including the nearby Shoal Cycle project, 90 feet tall – its design often becomes much more interesting after a similar push from the planning committee, is a prime example of what these buildings can be.

The 90-foot Shoal Cycle project is a perfect example of how apartment buildings that go beyond the standard “one-plus-five” configuration can enable a more unique and expressive design. Image: Weaver Buildings / Studio8 Architects

We won’t know until October 12 what the discussion between the applicants and the Old West Austin Neighborhood Association will bring, but it’s still interesting to see new projects work to break the typical height limits in this area that is not nearly as developed as other neighboring inner-city regions – especially when these projects bring additional living space to the table. We’re sure residents of mostly single-family neighborhoods like Clarksville nearby would agree that the West Fifth and Sixth Street corridors that run through this area are very good places for tall buildings.


90 Feet of Housing in Old West Austin Sounds Like a Good Start