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Five-Story Mixed-Use Building Proposed for Spring Street Downtown

Brent Warren Brent Warren Five-Story Mixed-Use Building Proposed for Spring Street Downtown
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Local developer Berardi and Partners has proposed a five-story mixed-use building for the corner of East Spring and Neilston Streets. The proposal, which was conditionally approved by the Downtown Commission at their April 2nd meeting, calls for a five-story building known as Discovery Commons, that includes ground-floor retail, a 60-space underground parking garage and 100 apartment units.

Two existing vacant buildings at 283 E. Spring, previously occupied by a series of different nightclubs, would be demolished.

Daniel Thomas, the city’s urban design manager who staffs the commission, said that the proposal is similar to one that Berardi presented to the commission in December of 2011. At last week’s meeting, the commission made some suggestions regarding the appearance of the building, but left it to the applicant to work out the details with Thomas.

The mix of apartments would include eight one-bedroom, 56 two-bedroom and 36 three-bedroom units for a total of 228 available beds. The plans also call for about 19,000 square feet of retail on the first floor, divided into six spaces. According to Thomas, the expectation is that something oriented to residents of the building (like a gym or workout facility) would fill at least a portion of this space.

Karrick Sherrill, Principal at Berardi, said that they do not yet have a timeline established for the project.

More information about Berardi and Partners can be found at www.berardipartners.com.

Renderings by Berardi and Partners.

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  • titleistcm

    More good news to see residential downtown. Not the best looking building though. I would like to see something taller!

  • NEOBuckeye

    Good news, but I agree. The color scheme is a little on the bland side. Could be more colorful, and taller too.

  • wpcc88

    Honestly you have to build within your means and demand in order to make things sustainable. Austin has a couple of HUGE residential towers downtown that aren’t even at capacity. I would rather have infill buildings that are full of residents than something like that. It creates more demand and therefore more projects to infill the remaining open lots downtown.

  • I agree that it would be great to see the ground floor on Spring interface a lot more with the street.
    It says six retail bays and I’m only counting 2 ground-floor doors facing Spring and maybe a third facing Neilston? Each retailer should have their own exterior door in addition to entryway points for residents.

    On the flip side of the equation, Spring Street itself needs to be fixed to be more accommodating of retail businesses. It’s currently a one-way four-lane expressway through this section of Downtown where automobile traffic travels 35-45mph. On the south side of Spring (where these retailers will be located) features minimal 3-foot wide sidewalks with no metered parking. There is some on-street metered parking on the north side of Spring, but it has rush hour restrictions preventing anyone from using it during prime time.

    Props to the developer for proposing 60 parking spaces for 228 beds though. This is exactly what Downtown needs. Hopefully they provide some indoor bike parking (or accomodate for it inside of individual units). This area is walkable to a lot of great amenities already, and has several easy to use bus lines nearby (1,6,9,11,16).

  • Correction! I just looked at the first floor site map from the proposal (image below) and every retail bay has its own outer door. Two on Spring, two on Neilston, and two facing the alleyway (Lafayette Street). Perfect!

  • heresthecasey

    Happy to have the development, but that plan seems quite bizarre.

  • Care to explain? What’s bizarre?

  • heresthecasey

    The size and spacing of the retail units, especially related to window placement and entry seem odd to me overall.

    Also, the previously mentioned lack of storefront systems, the awkward inclusion of retail spaces along the alley (next to and almost squeezed out by the dumpsters), the apparent dividing of the interior hallway with a wall placed after the fire stair, and that certain retail spots look like they have short sets of stairs leading into them, which are notorious tripping hazards. The developers of HighPoint at the City Center site were (are) very skeptical about the inclusion of 20,000 sq ft of retail in that project (a requirement of CapSouth), and almost passed on it as a result. This building voluntarily includes about the same amount, in a much less vibrant part of downtown.

    Again, I’m all for this development but certain details just leave me scratching my head.

  • jpizzow

    It’s built so close to the road that there isn’t even room for trees. 6 retail spaces also seems like overkill to me in this particular area. Currently, it’s kind of a dead zone. Edward’s new 5 story building currently under construction has no retail and has a better location and this proposal has 6 spaces…..I too am scratching my head.

  • RhondaH

    Having roamed around there for classes at CSCC I agree that it seems a lot of new retail for that spot. I am wondering if they are maybe planning the large bay to be another night club?

  • @heresthecasey – Fair questions to ask. The ability to fill retail largely is dependent upon pricing, so perhaps there’s a different expectation in leasing rates for retail between this project and Columbus Commons. Personally, I have no problem with alley-facing retail. Usually allows for cheaper rent for smaller shops, which leaves rooms for independents and locals when new build is usually designed more for chains.

    @jpizzow – If the area is currently a “dead zone”, then a good way to fix that would be to start to introduce some retail. While it would be great if the area was already a super hot spot, you don’t get to that without taking the first step. I’d also argue that the lack of current retail in the area is largely due to the fact that there is practically no existing available retail spaces in the area. You have the Warehouse Cafe not far away, and that’s about it. And they seem to do pretty well on the times I’ve been in. There’s a huge daytime population in the area at CSCC, and 20,000 square feet of retail doesn’t seem to be out of the realm of possibility for filling in. Especially if the Hills Market and Grass Skirt can make it work just two blocks away.

    @RhondaH – I wouldn’t be surprised if the larger bay is planned more as a spot for something like a Walgreens or CVS.

  • NerosNeptune

    It’s nice to see anything bringing life into that land of empty/parking lots.

  • [email protected]

    100 units and only 60 parking spaces.. You need more like 160 spaces! That will not work. Again the developer is catering to animal house tenants. What about empty nesters who need upwards of 2000 square feet. You want to stabilize a community you have to build for the non-transient populations. Downtown needs upscale sophisticates, not tenants who have no invested interest. The building looks like a block house jail…really it does. In this day and age, where is LEED and future thought. UGH! . With 100 apartments and 2 cars at least for most units, where on earth are peope going to park, not enough room on the streets then you have the lots for $70-$100 dollars a month. Overnight damage to cars parked outside is still a major concern around here, not to mention the murders in the after hours clubs that have us all talking these days. This type of housing is encouraging bad behavior. My opinion

  • I respectfully, but wholeheartedly disagree with absolutely everything you just said, javasloft. Other growing mid-sized cities are currently reducing or eliminating parking requirements to encourage pedestrian-oriented urban development. Here’s an example:


    Columbus should follow suit. If we want Downtown to be walkable and we want transit to improve, then there’s no need to force developers to build parking if they don’t want to build parking. There is a market for people who want to live with fewer vehicles or no vehicles, and that should fit perfectly in a Downtown urban environment.

    If an empty nester really needs 2000 square feet of space and a 2-car garage, they should look for a house in the suburbs and not Downtown. No sense in trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. That’s encouraging bad behavior IMHO.

  • InnerCore

    Someone is saying we should be looking to a city like Austin for development and zoning practices and it isn’t me???

    No but seriously I totally agree Walker. Downtown getting rid of parking minimums was one of the best things they have done. javasloft, developers are not going to build units without parking if there isn’t a market for it. Did you ever stop to think that the crime is coming from the fact that no one is walking down the street.

    This is exactly the type of project we need to see downtown. Mixed use, retail above residential with low parking ratios. Aesthetics don’t make a neighborhood, form and function do. And half the problem with the rendering is that it looks like its floating in space by itself. On an actual street with other buildings it will look 10 times better.

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