700-bedroom student housing project planned to wrap around historic Central Austin home

The 700-bedroom student housing complex is planned to wrap around the historic Kenney House.

The 700-bedroom student housing complex is planned to wrap around the historic Kenney House.

A massive student housing project planned for West Campus will tightly wrap around a two-story historic home should Austin City Council green light the development next month.

The 17-story, roughly 700-bedroom high-rise is proposed for 611 W. 22nd Street at the corner of Rio Grande and W. 22nd streets. The project will abut the 21 Rio high-rise apartment complex at 2101 Rio Grande Street and overtake much of the space currently occupied by the old Star of Texas Inn bed and breakfast and a small eight-unit student housing apartment.

The Kenney House, a two-story Victorian facing W. 22nd Street, previously deemed historic by the city, will be preserved. Local historic zoning is the only mechanism in Austin that can keep property owners from demolishing a building on their own property. The structure currently operates as building one of two for the Star of Texas Inn, and although it will be preserved, an employee of the inn said the business plans to shutter next year.

When the Kenney House was zoned historic, so too was its adjacent parking lot. Austin’s Planning Commission recommended Tuesday night that City Council approves removal of the parking lot’s historic zoning—necessary to the design of the building and a crucial step in clearing the way for the new project.

The mammoth student housing development is designed to wrap around the east- and south-facing facades of the historic home and tower 15 stories above it. Commissioner Karen McGraw, a professional architect, criticized the design as not respecting the Kenney House. Emily Little, the project’s restoration architect, countered and explained the first floor of the high-rise deliberately includes glass walls so every side of the Kenney House could be seen.

Commissioner Greg Anderson called the project “great” as it meets the growing demand for more off-campus housing for University of Texas students.

The project now heads to Austin City Council for a final decision on the parking lot’s historic zoning. A representative for the project estimated a City Council vote by late October.
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


MOST RECENT

A graphic reading "Today's coronavirus updates)
Travis County cases are plateauing around 500 daily, Austin's top doctor says

Stage 5 risk is still likely to come, Dr. Mark Escott said, due to strained ICU capacity.

Texas Senate District 14 special election
Senate District 14 election results: Sarah Eckhardt takes lead after early voting

The winner of the special election for Texas Senate District 14 will serve out the term of former state Sen. Kirk Watson through 2022.

2020 primary runoff
UPDATE: Margaret Moore concedes race to José Garza in Democrat primary runoff contest for Travis County district attorney

Read here to see the returns on the 2020 Democratic primary runoff contest for Travis County district attorney.

2020 primary runoff election
Ann Howard takes early voting lead in Travis County Precinct 3 Democratic primary race

Early voting results for the July 14 Democratic runoff election for Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3 have Ann Howard in the lead against Valinda Bolton at 15,131 votes to 7,739.

Polls closed at 7 p.m. July 14 in Texas' primary runoff election. Delia Garza and Laurie Eiserloh are running in the Democratic race for Travis County Attorney. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County attorney election results: Delia Garza leads after early voting

Laurie Eiserloh and Delia Garza are running to replace retiring Travis County Attorney David Escamilla, who has held the position for the previous 17 years.

Education Austin President Ken Zarifis said earlier this month that in-person teaching is inappropriate because it will risk the health of students, employees and teachers. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
All Austin ISD classes to be held online during first 3 weeks of school year

Travis County health officials said earlier July 14 that districts should delay the start of in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8 due to the ongoing pandemic.

A photo of the property Tesla is considering
BREAKING: Travis County approves 20-year incentives deal with Tesla for potential gigafactory

Travis County County commissioners voted July 14 to approve millions of dollars in possible tax rebates for the electric carmaker.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, giving claimants $600 per week, will end July 25. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Federal unemployment payments of $600 per week end July 25

While the added $600 federal unemployment benefits will end, Texans are still eligible for other forms of relief.

The Metz Recreation Center in East Austin may be renamed after Rudolfo 'Rudy' Mendez, a dance instructor and East Austin resident who died in 2019. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Metz Recreation Center could be renamed in honor of Rodolfo 'Rudy' Mendez

After gathering feedback from the public this spring, the parks and recreation department will go to Austin City Council with a proposal to rename the East Austin recreation center.

Dr. Steven Kelder is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin with a career spanning more than 25 years. (Graphic by Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Disease expert discusses ongoing pandemic and nearing school year

Dr. Steven H. Kelder recently answered several questions for Community Impact Newspaper regarding COVID-19; trends in cases statewide; and important considerations for parents, students and educators as the 2020-21 school year approaches.

Austin FC stadium under construction
Austin FC releases details on some stadium amenities

Austin FC revealed plans for the North Building—a section of its stadium that will house a beer hall, the team’s merchandise store and a hospitality lounge.