Construction began recently on a mixed-use project years in the making that will reshape a slice of East Austin directly across I-35 from the Central Business District.
Grading work for the Plaza Saltillo mixed-used development started earlier this month and the players involved — including developers Endeavor Real Estate Group LLC of Austin and Columbus Realty Partners Ltd. of Dallas, plus landlord Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority — hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to mark the first phase of work.
The roughly 10-acre development, between Fifth and Fourth streets and stretching east from I-35 to the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station, will turn six blocks into roughly 800 apartments (with 141 units, or roughly 18 percent, reserved for low-income renters), 140,000 square feet of office space (mostly in an eight-story tower next to the interstate), 110,000 square feet of retail space with restaurants and 1.4 acres of public space.
“Plaza Saltillo will connect East Austin with downtown and bring even more vibrancy to East Austin while enhancing the local flavor of that community,” Jason Thumlert, a principal with Endeavor Real Estate Group, said in a statement.
Capital Metro will receive about $19 million in rent from Endeavor and Columbus during the first decade of a 100-year lease for Plaza Saltillo, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Aside from the rail connection, developers also envision Plaza Saltillo as something of a transit hub, with bus stops, stations to rent from the Austin B-cycle program and an extension of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway under I-35.
Construction is expected to last about 30 months and wrap up near the end of 2019.
Earlier this year, Austin City Council approved rezoning the land for the project, including a four-story office building proposed by Endeavor along the interstate — with the option to increase the building height to eight stories if it paid into a fund to subsidize construction of nearby affordable housing. The Capital Metro board in April unanimously approved the master development agreement, including incentives for Endeavor to build the taller version of the office tower.