5/18/18 Austin Business Journal: New downtown office tower could rise 37 stories on coveted block

May 21, 2018 by Kelly Daacon

By Marissa Luck – Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal

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New details have surfaced about a roughly 37-story skyscraper proposed on one of the last undeveloped and unrestricted blocks downtown.

Developer Lincoln Property Co. and partner Phoenix Property Co. have been tight-lipped on what they hope to build at 308 Guadalupe St., but new site plans filed this week with the city reveal a little more about what they hope to build there.

Now called “The Republic,” the project would turn a drab parking lot catty-corner from the W Hotel into a massive office tower capable of hosting hundreds of employees. If the initial plans come to fruition, it could potentially be the largest and tallest office tower downtown, just slightly above Trammell Crow Company’s Block 71 project under construction.

Below are some key takeaways from the proposal for The Republic. Keep in mind that all of this could change during the review process:

  • The new project address is 401 W. Fourth St.; the tower would overlook the recently renovated Republic Square.
  • The tower would be 37 stories, plus a roof, or about 586 feet high.
  • The project would be 1.42 million square feet. That includes 711,401 square feet of office space. There’s also 21,463 square feet of retail proposed, including restaurant and shop space on the ground floor.
  • There is a total of 1,644 parking spaces proposed and 96 bicycle parking spaces. There would be 690,692 square feet of parking.
  • Based on the drawing of the skyscraper, it appears as though there would be about 14 stories of above-ground parking capped by 15 stories of office and amenity space.
  • Originally developers had proposed including residential space in the skyscraper, however the site plan doesn’t include a residential component.
  • The Republic will feature an open-space courtyard and plaza facing the north entrance. There would also be an underground water quality facility.
  • The civil engineer is Big Red Dog Engineering, the architect is North Carolina-based Duda Paine Architects and the landscape architect is TBG Partners; the land surveyor was 4ward Land Surveying.

Big Red Dog started the site plan review on behalf of Lincoln in April. However, there wasn’t much information available at the time because the site plan itself wasn’t formally submitted until this week, according to city staff.

Seth Johnston, Austin-based senior vice president of Lincoln, said he couldn’t discuss details of the project yet. However, he did say the square footage stats in the site plan could change based on market demand or tenant needs.

Johnston wouldn’t specify the timeline on the project but said, “We’re very early on in the process.”

Site plans for projects this large can take 12 to 24 months, although every project is different.

Johnston said Lincoln is more immediately focused on other projects, such as another skyscraper planned for 600 Guadalupe Street.

“We believe very strongly in the office and residential market (in Austin),” Johnston said.

Both Guadalupe Street projects are among the small handful of sites “that have real opportunity to make a significant impact on the skyline in downtown Austin,” he added.

Lincoln and Phoenix, both of Dallas, inked a 99-year ground lease for the property last July with Travis County.

The county will retain ownership of the land and collect $430 million over the lease. It bought the land for $21.8 million in 2010.

The county previously planned to build a new civil courthouse on the site to replace the aging Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse, but voters in 2015 narrowly rejected a $287 million bond to fund the project. Officials said the lease payments from the Lincoln-Phoenix ground lease will help defray the cost of a new civil and family courts complex.

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