Plaza Saltillo, the long-debated and -awaited development on several blocks bordering IH-35 in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood, finally broke ground Wednesday (and, judging by a late-afternoon drive-by, has been quickly razed and denuded of any detritus that might have remained on the entire grounds).
According to a Wednesday report in the Austin Business Journal, that razing/grading work had actually begun earlier this month, but major players on the project—including developers Endeavor Real Estate Group and Columbus Realty Partners, as well as landowners Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority—got together on hump day to make things official.
The Journal also reported that construction is expected to last 30 months and be finished by 2019, which would make it much faster than the planning process for the project has been.
Plans for transforming the 11-acre tract into a mixed-used, transit-oriented development with a complex array of uses have been several years in the making and have involved a number of major changes, debates, and debates over changes along the way.
The final plan for the development, which will occupy the area betwen Fifth and Fourth streets on the north and south and run six blocks east from IH-35, includes 800 apartments (18 percent of them for low-income renters), 140,000 square feet of office space, 110,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 1.4 acres of public space, the Journal reported.
The plan includes an 11th hour proposal by Endeavor to build a four-story office building on the west end of the development, with an option to increase the building height to eight stories if it contributed money for neighborhood affordable housing. The proposal required, and received, rezoning approval from the Austin City Council, which it received in March.
The Capital Metro board in April approved the Plaza Saltillo master development agreement, including incentives for Endeavor to build the taller version of the office tower, according to the Journal.
The Austin American-Statesman reported last week that Capital Metro’s 100-year lease with Endeavor will bring in approximately $19 million to the agency in its first 10 years.