Austin City Council postpones movement on long-awaited HealthSouth tower project until at least January

The proposal from Aspen Heights Partners would place two towers—one residential and one office—on the downtown tract. (Courtesy Austin Economic Development Department)
The proposal from Aspen Heights Partners would place two towers—one residential and one office—on the downtown tract. (Courtesy Austin Economic Development Department)

The proposal from Aspen Heights Partners would place two towers—one residential and one office—on the downtown tract. (Courtesy Austin Economic Development Department)

After the city of Austin unveiled its recommended development plans for the city-owned, 1.7-acre downtown tract at 1215 Red River St., some City Council members pushed back, unsure whether the long-awaited proposal went far enough in meeting the community’s goals. After some debate among elected officials, they decided to postpone voting on the proposal until at least Jan. 28.

City Council voted to buy back development rights for the property, formerly occupied by HealthSouth, in 2016. The tract, one of the city’s most valuable undeveloped real estate assets, has since represented a rare opportunity for the city to put subsidized housing in downtown Austin, as well as contributing to its burgeoning Innovation District in the northeast quadrant of downtown.

The locally based Aspen Heights Partners has proposed two towers for the site. The first would be a 36-story, 420,000-square-foot residential tower with 348 apartments and 160 condos. The tower would offer 25% of the total units as affordable housing, with a mix of rental units for residents earning between 50%-60% of the median family income—$48,800-$58,550 for a family of four—and ownership condos for residents earning 80% of the median family income—$78,100 for a family of four.

The second tower is proposed as a 15-story, 170,000-square-foot office tower that would come with a 25,000 square feet of retail space, 18,000 of which will be dedicated as a “culinary destination” with space for the “local food system.” The proposal also includes a rooftop cafe and a publicly available viewing deck, 6,000 square feet of music and arts space, and a 22,000-square-foot elevated plaza that would connect the towers and act as a public park.

City Council was set to approve the project Dec. 3 but agreed to postpone after City Council Member Kathie Tovo, whose District 9 sits adjacent to the tract, raised concerns over how little time the public and City Council had to review the project’s details. City Council was then scheduled to vote Dec. 10 but decided during its Dec. 8 work session to push the decision to January.


Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the January date on which City Council will vote on this item.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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