new shops and restaurants on Fifth Street,
have made it a lot easier for people to
make the decision to live in the heart of
the city. There are also plans to bring in
still more retail downtown, as residents are
demanding more services and options.
For example, the Second Street District has
done very well with the boutique stores,
sidewalk cafes, and coffee shops that have
popped up along the street in the last year or
two. The Second Street District is also home
to restaurants, retail stores, home furnishings stores, sandwich shops, and more.
KLRU Studios (home of the long-running
“Austin City Limits” television show) and
its new performing arts venue – ACL Live
at the Moody Theater – opened adjacent to
the new W Hotel. The Mexican-American
Cultural Center is closeby, adding to Austin’s
cultural base and downtown appeal.
WHERE TO LIVE?
There has always been some residential
development in downtown Austin – like
the historic Brazos Lofts, the Railyard
Condominiums, and Gables West Avenue, all
of which opened in 1999 – but it wasn’t
until 2002 when the residential market
In that year, the Plaza Lofts at Republic
Square and West 5th, the Brown Building
lofts on West 8th, and the luxury Nokonah
residences on West 9th all opened within
months of each other. Since then, countless
residential projects have opened or have
been renovated, including the Austin City
Lofts; Avenue Lofts; Austonian; 404 Rio
Grande; AMLI Downtown; The 5 Fifty Five
(atop the downtown Hilton hotel); The
Monarch; The Milago; The Shore; Posada del
Rey; The Sabine on 5th; La Vista on Lavaca;
The W Condominiums; and others.
While there are some affordable housing
options in downtown Austin, it’s not often
the norm. Price per square foot for most
downtown condos runs about $220-$255.
However, there are some residential developments in the works that are addressing
the affordability factor – and many of
them are in the hot area of East Austin.
Residential projects in East Austin – such as
the Saltillo Lofts and Twenty One 24, among
others – are still relatively affordable, and
that’s good for those who want to be in the
thick of things, but who are also on a budget.
Downtown projects include Westgate Tower
at 11th and Colorado; Cambridge Tower at
1801 Lavaca; Penthouse Condos at 1212
Guadalupe; the Towers of Town Lake at 40
N. I- 35; and the Spring Lofts.
KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY
Are you ready for the downtown lifestyle?
Downtown living is not a perfect fit for
everyone. Many downtown residential
sales are in high-rise developments, and
living in them requires some adjustment
from a traditional single-family home.
Those thinking of making the switch to
a downtown high-rise should do a bit of
self-examination. Do you like to walk?
Do you need a yard? Do you need your
car every day? Have you lived in an urban
setting before? Those are all important
questions to consider before making the
move to an urban lifestyle.
Buyers should also consider some of the
extra expenses that go with condominium
or loft living. Homeowner’s association
fees are just one example. Some amenities
and services are included in your fees – but
not all. If the property you are interested
in offers a 24-hour concierge service, for
example, think about whether that’s a
service you would use and want to pay for.
Always ask about a property’s parking
policy, too. Many properties allow for only
one parking space per bedroom, so if you
own a one-bedroom condo and have two
cars, you will likely need to make special
arrangements to park the second car. Ask
about visitor parking spaces, too – are
they available, or is the only option street
parking? Given Austin’s busy downtown
weekend activity, that could be a challenge.
There’s no doubt that the idea of working
and playing within easy walking distance
of home is extremely appealing to many.
According to the Downtown Austin Alliance,
more than 123, 178 work in the downtown
area; about 10,000 residents call downtown
home; and more than 363,000 people live
within a 10-minute drive of downtown.
There is no particular profile of those who
choose to make downtown their home,
and the population includes many families
and young professionals, not just college
students. It’s a mixture of all age groups
– and all are attracted to the diversity that
downtown has to offer.
Source: Downtown Austin Alliance DowntownAustin.com
Photo courtesy of Elan East