St. Elmo Public Market mixed-use project construction begins

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The first round of tenants for the St. Elmo Public Market—a future mixed-use development that will include a 100,000-square-foot office building, 386 apartment units, a 156-room boutique hotel, a parking garage and a 40,000-square-foot centralized marketplace­­—were announced April 13, and more announcements are on the way.

Located in South Austin at 4329 S. Congress Ave., the site’s developers, Maker Bros. and the Carlin Co., began work on Phase 1 of the project in April, converting a bus manufacturing building into the marketplace. Phase 1 could be complete by spring 2019, the development’s spokesperson Jennifer Sinski said.

“You’re going to have this really cool market as the centerpiece, and then between the apartments and buildings there’s going to be a little boulevard that you could hang out on a nice day,” partner Brandon Bolan told Community Impact Newspaper. “You can live here, work here, shop here or hang out here.”

The public market’s confirmed tenants include Mignette, a bakery and modern diner; a butcher shop and restaurant by the owners of Salt & Time; and a retail location for Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company.

Marketplace concept

Bolan said the goal is to create something similar to New York’s Chelsea Market, the Pike Place Market in Seattle or the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

“If you can imagine going into an enclosed farmers market where you would have your produce operator, your butcher, your baker, your coffee guys and your ice-cream maker,” he said. “You walk around and every stall would be different, but you could take your bag and get everything you need to cook a meal at home, and at the same time go to a beer tap and have a beer or some food you can enjoy on-site before heading home.”

Site plans show space for approximately 25 total retail and food vendors, and Bolan said the group is being very judicious about the quality of local vendors they include.

“We’re only after first-round draft picks,” he said. “It’s an exclusive group of small, local businesses with high-quality products.”

While developers could have built an entirely new structure, Bolan said the group wanted to preserve the bus factory skeleton to make the site something that is uniquely South Austin.

“The whole premise is to save this warehouse structure, make it a cool experience with shops, restaurants and vendors, and then build new [office, apartment and hotel] structures around it,” he said.

Surrounding buildings

Partner Matt Stevens said the development group is still acquiring some surrounding pieces of property for the three other projects proposed for the overall site. The group hopes to have a site development permit from the city of Austin sometime this summer.

Phase 2 of the project will be the apartment building, with construction scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2019, Stevens said. The apartments will be advertised once permitting is approved, he said.

Phase 3 will include the office building and construction could begin fall 2019. The hotel will be the final phase of the project and is set for an early 2020 groundbreaking if permitting goes as planned.

According to the current site plan, the office building and apartments will be built on the north and south sides of the market, respectively. The hotel will be constructed along South Congress Avenue, replacing a storage center and a food truck park that are currently in operation.

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Nicholas Cicale
Nick was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in South Florida. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in writing and a minor in music. Nick was a journalist for three years at the St. James Plaindealer in Minnesota before moving to Austin to join Community Impact Newspaper in 2016.
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