Setting A New Standard

Laura Mohammad |
Source: Austin Business Journal

The second phase of Southpark Meadows is already starting to fill a void in the retail-starved area near the Hays and Travis county lines, and the project’s developer is on the way to being rewarded for the effort.

Austin Energy’s Green Building Program tracks and ranks factors, such as water use, use of natural lighting, stormwater management, choice of site and many other issues. On a scale of one to five—five being the best — developer Endeavor Real Estate Group set a goal to achieve a two-star ranking.

“They’re well on their way. … I think for this building type, that is pretty special,” says Maureen Scanlon, Green Building Program engineer for Austin Energy.

At I-35 and Slaughter Lane, Southpark Meadows is a 425-acre project with 1.6 million square feet of retail being built out in three phases; 690 multifamily units by Fairfield Residential; and 400 single-family homes by Lennar Corp. In the future, there will also be 250 townhomes and 200,000 square feet of office and medical office condominiums. By the end of next year, the retail components of the site will be completed.

Endeavor set a goal to reduce construction waste by 50 percent through recycling and reusing materials such as metal and sheetrock, Scanlon says.

About 28 percent of what goes into a landfill is construction waste, she says.

“You can think of it as throwing capital away. There is value in these products. [Endeavor] did a very good job of staying on top of their construction waste. They were eager and they had positive attitudes, and that’s why it worked,” Scanlon says.

The project will serve about 275,000 residents in the South Austin, Buda and Kyle areas.

“South Austin has been neglected in terms of retail, compared to the rest of the city,” says Chris Ellis, managing principal of Endeavor. “[Residents] had to drive to Sunset Valley. [South Austin] wasn’t as sexy as some of the northern suburbs” for developers.

The second phase of retail alone will have about 100 tenants in 29 buildings by March 2008. Its centerpiece is The Grove, which will include a massive playscape, water features that include a fountain, and an amphitheater.

Local and regional restaurants will pepper the perimeter.

“We want moms and children and people to have a place to go — a place to shop, a place to eat,” says Ellis.

The project rests on the site of the old Southpark Meadows Amphitheater music venue. It was critical to Ellis that the memory of that site be preserved.

“I have fond memories of listening to music out there,” Ellis says. “The groves were where you sat under the trees and listened to music.”

Phase II anchors include SuperTarget, J.C. Penney, Borders and other major stores.

“It was a very difficult site, an old concert [venue]. It was beautiful,” says Steve Mattson, but difficult to develop because of a 20-foot floor elevation. Mattson is a senior associate with architecture and planning firm Hodges & Associates PLLC in Dallas, which worked on the project.

Curvatures were added in the design to break up the monotony of straight lines, he says. The developers expect the green areas to mature in about five years.

“The whole center was designed with the southwestern, Hill Country flavor,” Mattson says of his use of galvanized steel and Austin limestone.