The skyscraper being constructed at 98 Red River St. in downtown Austin, which is set to be the tallest building in both the city and state when complete, finally has a name: Waterline.

In addition to its official moniker, the development team revealed Sept. 6 a slew of additional details about the project, which is set to take the skyline to new heights. That included a breakdown of space within the hotel-office-residential tower and community benefits like pedestrian access and a seven-figure donation to the nearby trail system.

"Downtown Austin offers one of the most dynamic markets and skylines in the nation, and we're excited to help drive its ongoing transformation," said Seth Johnston, senior vice president in Austin for Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co., which is co-developing the tower with San Antonio-based Kairoi Residential LLC.

The sleek tower will rise 1,022 feet, or 74 floors, above a 3.3-acre lot near the Rainey Street district. That will surpass the Texas skyscraper record of 1,002 feet set by Houston’s JPMorgan Chase Tower. It would also make it more than twice as tall as the iconic 33-floor Frost Bank Tower in Austin.

At ground level, Waterline will feature two floors and 24,000 square feet of publicly accessible retail and restaurant space, according to the developers.

It's not yet known which retailers will take up residence as the tower’s completion is still four to five years out, Johnston said. The next 13 floors of the tower will be occupied by 1 Hotel Austin, a 251-room luxury hotel with a ballroom, meeting spaces and a rooftop pool.

Johnston said Lincoln originally connected with 1 Hotels in 2016 during planning for another Lincoln tower on the west side of downtown Austin. But that tower, The Republic, morphed over time into a pure office building.

When it came time to develop Waterline, Lincoln spoke with 1 Hotel once more and decided to bring the company onboard after finding the two shared a vision for the project, which matched that of architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC.

"It took a while for us to get [1 Hotel] in the boat, but we're really happy and excited that they're part of the project," Johnston said.

Huge office space

Above the hotel will be 27 floors of office space encompassing 700,000 square feet. To give you a sense of scale, those 27 floors encompass roughly one-third of the building's height. Yet the 700,000 square feet of office space would be the second-largest office tower in downtown Austin today, after the 730,000-square-foot Indeed Tower.

Office tenants will have access to a 24,000-square-foot outdoor space, a bar and lounge, indoor meeting spaces and a prep kitchen for events. Tenants will also be able to access a 7,000-square-foot fitness facility on the second floor with cardio equipment, weights, a yoga studio and dance studio.

The office space will be suitable for both large corporate users and smaller technology companies, Johnston said.

"In Austin, Texas, you don't go only corporate or only tech," he said. "Big corporations and tech companies intermingle every day, so what we tried to design is a building that can suit both and be as flexible as possible."

Residential, location details

The top 33 floors of the tower will be occupied by 352 luxury apartments. Though demand for apartments is high throughout Austin, Lincoln sees a need for more high-end rentals in downtown, Johnston said.

For information about square footage of apartment units and floor plans, Johnston referred Austin Business Journal to Kairoi Residential, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Three floors of underground parking will cater to the residential and hotel users while office parking will be above-ground, and the developers have found a creative solution to the question of how to make a parking garage attractive: hide it.

"We kind of wrapped our parking garage with the hotel," Johnston said. "The hotel rooms are tacked onto the side of the parking garage. That accomplishes a bunch of goals, one of them being you don't have to stare at a parking garage from the creekside."

The tower is also being developed with the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification. That is the second-highest certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, and recognizes buildings that save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people, according to the USGBC website.

The tower is situated on the eastern bank of Waller Creek along the Waterloo Greenway. Developers will add two pedestrian bridges over the creek from the west and three additional public pedestrian and bike access points to the Waterloo Greenway from the east, according to the announcement.

Additionally, the developers will contribute $1 million to the Waterloo Greenway in order to help fund improvements to the 1.5-mile trail that will connect the University of Texas at Austin to Lady Bird Lake.

"That has been just a huge effort and it will have a positive impact on really all of Austin, but certainly that eastern side of the [Central Business District] all the way up to campus," Johnston said. "It's a great project for the city and something we're happy to be associated with."

Who's building Waterline?

Construction on the tower began June 13, Johnston said. Under the current construction schedule, office tenant improvements would begin in May 2025. The tower is expected to "top out," reaching its apex, in August 2025, with the hotel and residential units opening in fall 2026.

Johnston declined to reveal an estimated price for the tower. An August 2021 filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation listed an estimated cost of $520 million, although such filings are usually preliminary and subject to change throughout development.

Other companies involved in development of Waterline include HKS as architect of record, TBG Partners and Nudge Design as landscape architects, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture as office interior designer, Studio Mai as hotel and residential interior designer, Armbrust & Brown PLLC as land use attorney, DPR as general contractor, Brockette Davis Drake as structural engineer, WGI as civil engineer and Alvine as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer.

The Public Sector Pension Investment Board, one of Canada's largest pension investment managers, is the main equity partner in the project. The company, which had net assets under management of 230.5 billion Canadian dollars as of March 31, manages a diversified global portfolio of investments in public financial markets, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, natural resources and credit investments.

"We are pleased to be increasing our portfolio exposure to high conviction markets and green assets in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States," stated Carole Guérin, a managing director at PSP Investments. "This investment provides significant upside potential as the city of Austin continues its expansion to become a top-tier US market that offers high quality of life, a supportive business environment, exciting employment opportunities and a hotbed for technology and innovation."

Blackstone Mortgage Trust Inc. provided the construction loan for the project.

"We continue to see strong demand for new, best-in-class residential, office and hospitality assets in high growth markets like Austin and are excited to support this trophy, mixed use development that will make a meaningful contribution to the community as well as the Austin skyline," stated Katie Keenan, CEO of Blackstone Mortgage Trust (NYSE: BXMT), part of Blackstone Inc. (NYSE: BX). "We look forward to continuing to lend on low-leverage, high-quality projects and serving as a partner to well-capitalized, experienced sponsors like LPC, Kairoi, and PSP Investments."

Eastdil Secured served as the financing advisor to the sponsors.

Waterline is a huge addition to Lincoln's already expansive development pipeline in downtown Austin.

Is is also co-developing with Kairoi the 66-story Sixth and Guadalupe skyscraper. That is currently the tallest building in Austin and expected to be completed in 2023. All 33 of its office floors — 589,000 square feet — were leased by Meta Platforms Inc. in December in what was the second-largest single office lease ever in downtown.

And with Phoenix Property Co., Lincoln is developing The Republic, a 48-story, 833,000-square-foot office tower adjacent to Republic Square park. Groundbreaking for The Republic is expected to take place Sept. 29.


Source: Austin Business Journal 

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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