• Staci Livesay

Latest Update on The Travis Property (formerly The Villas)

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

This info was peeled off of the Austin Business Journal Article dated 9.3.19.

The Travis Update at 80 Red River St.

Dallas-based Genesis Real Estate Group wants to develop a large-scale residential project called The Travis at 80 Red River St. in the Rainey Street area downtown. The site was once home to the Villas on Town Lake, a condo community that was demolished in February.

Developer Gordon Ip, Genesis' president, has previously teased that the project could include a second tower in addition to the original apartment tower planned on the site. Studio Outside Landscape Architecture and GDA Architects, both based in Dallas, are also on the development team.

Drenner Group's Leah Bojo, representing the development team, said at an Aug. 26 Design Commission meeting that plans for The Travis indeed feature two towers, one with apartments for rent and the other with multifamily units for sale, hotel rooms and a ground-floor coffee shop.

The project's total size now stands at 1,236,806 square feet — 662,636 gross square feet of apartments, 377,247 gross square feet of condos, 194,523 gross square feet for the hotel and 2,400 gross square feet for coffee and bar retail space on the first floor.

"It's primarily going to be residential, both condo and multifamily" apartments for rent, Bojo said.

The Towers blog reported about the project's towering 695-foot second phase, featuring the hotel and condo units, earlier this summer.

The 2.3-acre site sits at the corner of Red River and Davis streets, adjacent to a site that coworking giant WeWork bought late last year.

"This is a very irregularly shaped site with almost no frontage," Bojo said. "This site has been a challenge."

Ip told commissioners the design aims to draw passersby from the Rainey Street area and nearby trails with amenities like the coffee shop, public space and bike and kayak storage.

"We've tried to dot this area as much as we can for pedestrian connectivity," he said.

But some commissioners weren't impressed, saying the small amount of retail — including the lack of a restaurant on the hotel's ground floor — would fail to interact with people who aren't living or staying at The Travis.

Commissioner Samuel Franco said the project seemed like "the most exclusive and secluded project" to come before the Design Commission.

"I think it's basically here only for a very select few amount of people who can afford to be inside of that space," Franco said. "I'm not seeing any chance whatsoever for the public, in general, to really take advantage of that building, let alone the beauty of the green space that is their river." Some commissioners praised changes that were made to the project over the course of the summer, such as adding bike rental amenities and more trees along some of the pedestrian walkways. "I see great improvement on the plan and appreciate that," Commissioner Aan Coleman said.

Others fell somewhere in the middle on the project's merits. "You have such a unique site and it obviously has inherent challenges, but it also has great opportunities just because of the adjacencies to the trail," Commissioner Beau Frail said.

The Design Commission is expected to later this month again weigh whether or not to recommend The Travis for the Downtown Density Bonus Program. City Planning and Zoning staff have the final say on whether projects qualify for the program.

The site is entitled to a floor-to-area ratio of 8:1 — but the developers want 13:1 with a maximum height of 695 feet for the second phase of the project with the hotel and condo units. The first phase, featuring rental residential units, would be 575 feet tall.

In a benefit that could be provided through the Downtown Density Bonus Program, the developers propose providing 24,518 square feet of on-site affordable housing space with almost $2.1 million in additional fees-in-lieu to support affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

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Rainey Neighborhood Association

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