Austin American-Statesman property to be redeveloped, pending zoning change

The South Central Waterfront vision plan guides the redevelopment of 118 acres along Lady Bird Lake, including the Statesman property.

The South Central Waterfront vision plan guides the redevelopment of 118 acres along Lady Bird Lake, including the Statesman property.

The owner of the Austin American-Statesman property, in conjunction with local developer Endeavor Real Estate Group, plans to redevelop the 18.9-acre site at the corner of Riverside Drive and South Congress Avenue.

A representative for the Cox family, which owns the property, presented preliminary plans at a June 17 meeting of the South Central Waterfront Advisory Board. As proposed, the redevelopment would include several buildings, some as high as 40 stories; an extension of Barton Springs Road from South Congress Avenue to East Riverside Drive; and 12.5 acres of space designated for public use, including the creation of a publicly accessible waterfront park.

The Cox family operates Cox Enterprises, which previously owned the Statesman newspaper for more than 40 years. In March 2018, the company announced it was selling the paper to New York City-based newspaper publisher GateHouse Media while retaining ownership of the property.

Endeavor Real Estate Group developed the Domain in North Austin and is currently working on a mixed-use project called Music Lane on South Congress Avenue.

The South Central Waterfront initiative is a vision plan adopted by Austin City Council in 2016 to guide the redevelopment of 118 acres along Lady Bird Lake. The area is comprised of more than 30 parcels, all but one of which are privately owned, according to the vision plan; the Statesman property is the largest of the parcels.

As proposed, the Statesman redevelopment will require a planned unit development, or PUD, amendment to the site's zoning to accommodate buildings as high and as dense as proposed.

The Statesman property is critical to the success of the South Central Waterfront initiative, said Alan Holt, principal planner for the city of Austin.

"When we started this process [in 2012], even though there are 34 different properties, it's been foremost in everyone's mind that the Statesman site... was going to be a historic opportunity for Austin to do something extraordinary or to do something not so extraordinary," Holt told Community Impact Newspaper in late May.

The redevelopment plan proposes that two-thirds of the site to be put to public use, which aligns with one of the key objectives of the South Central Waterfront initiative.

"It's very early, but all of that looks promising," Holt said with regard to the proposal to devote a significant amount of the site to the public realm.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to clarify that Holt said the redevelopment plan's proposal to devote 12 acres of the Statesman site to public use, rather than the entire plan, aligns with the South Central Waterfront initiative's key objectives. 
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


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