Austin City Council's approval of several zoning requests June 9 clears the way for multiple developments across town to move forward. City officials signed off on plans that could allow the historic Austin Opera House to reopen, bring a towering new mixed-use project near Q2 Stadium and add to the ongoing redevelopment on the northeast side of downtown.

Austin Opera House poised to return

After drawn-out negotiations between developers and South River City residents, plans for the revival of the Austin Opera House at 200 Academy Drive were cleared to move ahead.

A project from owner Spearhead Academy would see the old music venue and recording studio reopened as a mid-sized performance hall and cocktail lounge. Much of the 200 Academy property is taken up by a parking lot, and that land would be redeveloped into a multifamily housing complex the project team previously said would act as a "buffer" between the opera house and adjacent neighborhood.

The zoning case passed with several conditions added by District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo, including a cap on the size of the music hall and bar. That limit of 10,000 square feet is well below Spearhead's original request for a 17,500-square-foot space that had been further scaled down to 13,500 square feet as of last month.

The size issue proved to be a sticking point between area residents and the development team since last year with neighbors expressing concern about the noise and traffic a larger venue could attract near their homes. On the opposite side, several members of the Austin music scene have turned out to support the larger proposal by highlighting a need for more mid-sized performance halls and the chance to restore a piece of the city's music industry history.

Supportive housing coming to Hancock

Council unanimously cleared the way for a 100-unit permanent supportive housing complex in the Hancock neighborhood, Cady Lofts, for people with a history of chronic homelessness.

The zoning case made it through council review weeks after dozens of passionate speakers both in favor and against the project appeared before the planning commission in May to voice their thoughts. And while much opposition to Cady Lofts during that meeting came from Hancock residents, several neighbors returned before council to state that they no longer wanted to see the project stalled—if developers make additional consideration for pedestrian safety and traffic in the area.

“After consulting with city staff, elected officials and advocates for the homeless, the [Hancock Neighborhood Association] decided not to be part of the problem but part of the solution. My neighbors and I look forward to ensuring that Cady Lofts lives up to its promised potential," longtime Hancock resident Bradley Price said.

Innovation District redevelopment

The former home of the Texas Municipal Retirement System in Austin's downtown Innovation District was rezoned to allow for the office building's potential redevelopment.

Located at 708 E. 12th St., the old TMRS building is now zoned with additional entitlements and could soon welcome hundreds of housing units and thousands of square feet of commercial space. Cushman & Wakefield is currently advertising the sale of the 1-acre site, called East Waterloo, with the possibility of building a hotel, apartments or condominiums, and commercial space across 350,000 or more square feet.

The 12th Street property is located adjacent to other notable sites poised for redevelopment within the Innovation District, including Central Health's PUD at the old Brackenridge Hospital and a pair of mixed-use towers on city-owned land next door.

More Domain development

One zoning request council pushed along June 9 could bring more than a thousand housing units next door to the home of Austin FC.

A 3.34-acre property at 10321-10401 Burnet Road earned additional residential density through its new zoning and could now rise up to 308 feet in height. The project proposed at the site across the street from Q2 Stadium would include 1,100 residential spaces, according to city planning documents.

The residential complex would be one of many coming in around North Burnet where other large developments, including Verde Square and several dense multifamily projects, are in the works. The Domain area is poised to welcome thousands more housing units over the next few years as it continues to grow.