An investment group is making an offer on the medical condos on 38th street (see map below). The Sutton Company has not yet closed on the properties but they have purchased other condo developments in the past and we should be prepared for this one to go through.
What does this mean for Heritage?
This is a large parcel with sparse one-story buildings, so it’s been destined for redevelopment. The southern end of the parcel is adjacent to homes on West Ave and 35th Street, so a key concern is how this development will affect those neighbors. The board of Friends of Heritage met with the Sutton Company to get an update and will keep the neighborhood informed as things progress. Given the early state of the process we do not have anything concrete. Any official position on the redevelopment would first be approved through an online vote by the membership of Friends of Heritage.
The Sutton Company presented the FoH board with a rendering but it was speculative and there is no guarantee that it will match final designs. The Sutton Company purchased the Villas at Town Lake condos in the Rainey Street area and then sold the property to a Dallas-based investment firm who is redeveloping it, so it is quite possible that another company will end up redeveloping this site.
Friends of Heritage response
The board told the Sutton Company that it is our strong desire to have mixed-use with residential multi-family at this site rather than offices. Residences bring life to our neighborhood, with new neighbors out walking, patronizing local businesses, and adding to the personality of Heritage. In addition demand is high for central Austin living and any additional residences help alleviate some of the demand for the new residents moving to Austin. We pointed out that our excellent neighborhood schools and the location across from Central Market makes their development a perfect fit for families and told them we would like to see some larger units for families. We also told them we would like to see a publicly-accessible pocket park that could be used by residents and neighbors.
The Sutton Company said this project would probably be developed as PUD (planned unit development) which gives the city flexibility to craft custom zoning, and the city considers the input of neighborhood groups in making a decision on the PUD. As the project moves forward we can use our leverage based upon feedback we get from the FoH membership. One idea is to keep the scale smaller near the existing houses while considering increased height along 38th Street (away from houses) if the development is residential as a carrot to discourage office buildings.
As I said, this is all very early and subject to much change until we are confident who is actually developing the project. Friends of Heritage will keep you posted as it moves along, and we’ll provide information and get the neighbors’ input before taking any positions. In particular we will engage neighbors who live adjacent to this property to ensure they are aware of this project and have a chance to provide their input. If you have thoughts or questions please reply to this post.