Austin Symphony Orchestra building slated for demolition, likely rebuilt into mysterious Red River mixed-use project

Austin Symphony Orchestra performs its annual Halloween Children's Concert.

Austin Symphony Orchestra performs its annual Halloween Children's Concert.

The existing Austin Symphony Orchestra building, which has stood at 1117 Red River St. since 1976, is on its way to demolition and, according to city staff, will be rebuilt as part of a planned mixed-use project on the lot.

The details of that project, however, remain unclear. Alongside the one-story ASO structure on the roughly 13-acre downtown tract is a building currently occupied by Velocity Credit Union; however, that building will soon be empty as the bank recently announced plans to move to Northwest Austin.

The plan for the ASO following demolition is that it will be tied into a redevelopment of the entire lot, which a staff report presented to the planning commission on March 12 referred to as a “mixed use project to include office, multifamily and hotel uses.”

Although Scott Grantham, a case manager for the project for the city, said the applicant, Michele Rogerson Lynch from land use law firm Metcalfe, Wolff, Stuart & Williams, showed him plans for a mixed-use project on the site, nothing has been placed on file with the city. Neither Lynch nor ASO Executive Director Anthony Corroa returned calls for comment.

The only thing on file is an expired rezoning application from 2017 for the Velocity Credit Union tract—represented by local land-use firm Armbrust & Brown—that attempted to get a project grandfathered in with the city before City Council approved of new Capitol View Corridors, which would have limited the height of projects in the area to sit below the sight line of the Texas Capitol. City Council never approved the new Capitol View Corridors; however, the city staff report called the project in question a “mixed-use development 100 percent impervious cover, 100 percent building coverage and max 45 stories.”

Grantham maintained there were no further details on the development. Representatives from Velocity Credit Union declined to comment on the project.

That rezoning application expired in April, but in November, local engineering firm Big Red Dog filed for a land status determination report from staff. Rachel Enns, the applicant representing Big Red Dog, declined to comment. Will Schnier, Big Red Dog vice president and co-founder, did not return calls for comment.

The 13-acre tract is an expensive piece of downtown real estate—land value has increased more than $2.1 million, from about $4.3 million to $6.4 million between 2014 and 2018, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District. The rezoning case for the symphony building from commercial services to central business district will head to City Council on April 11.

By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


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