The Austin Planning Commission on Jan. 14 said it was OK for the 570-foot tower to have a mirrored glass facade with 30% reflectivity—greater than the 20% limit mandated for downtown waterfront properties in the city’s building code. The variance, which was recommended by city staff, came on the condition that the developer, Intracorp, work with the city to ensure the building design is “bird friendly”—or designed in way that works to deter birds from crashing into the building and dying.
The glass reflectivity variance was the last major hurdle to clear for the 44 East project, according to Leah Bojo, a local lobbyist with The Drenner Group, which represents IntraCorp.
The 27,631-square foot project will include one- to four-bedroom residential units ranging from 500 square feet to 3,500 square feet. The tower will also have 3,534 square feet of commercial space. The project broke ground in October, and the completion date is set for 2022, according to Brad Stein, the managing director of Intracorp’s Austin office.
The tower is one of many large-scale projects planned for the Rainey Street district. As of 2019, the district, with less than one-tenth of 1 square mile, had 3,565 active hotel and residential units, with 3,648 more approved or proposed. The area’s rapid growth into one of the city’s most popular residential neighborhoods and entertainment districts has raised safety concerns among residents and city officials. Recently, the city began closing Rainey Street to vehicular traffic on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The map below highlights several aspects of the Rainey Street district: existing hotel and residential density, hotel and residential projects that have been either approved or proposed, proposed and existing street closure plans, and street entrances and exits into the district. Click on any of the colored areas for more details. The blue, green and red polygons respectively represent existing, approved and proposed hotel and residential projects. Hotel projects are darker shades; residential projects are lighter shades. The purple circles represent access areas into the district; darker shades represent areas that allow entrance and exit in any direction, and lighter shades show areas that only allow one-way entrance and or exit. The red line represents the area of Rainey Street that is closed to vehicular traffic during peak hours. The orange line represents the city's street closure plan during South by Southwest Conference & Festivals.