Plans that could bring millions of square feet of mixed-use space and up to 10-story buildings to the shores of the Colorado River in East Austin advanced in mid-December.

The details

The proposed "Bolm Colorado" project from Kairoi Residential would bring thousands of residences, a hotel, and millions of square feet of retail, office, dining and arts space to two riverside industrial sites off US 183, Levander Loop, Linger Lane and Bolm Road.

The redevelopment of those properties covering about 115 acres would be among the largest projects coming on the east side.

The ongoing Bolm Colorado zoning review process is advancing months after the approval of plans for another large-scale, mixed-use project just around the corner that's also expected to bring new levels of height and density to the area.

Between its eastern and western portions, the proposed Bolm Colorado development would include:
  • More than 2,200 mid-rise multifamily housing units
  • A 385-room hotel with a 37,390-square-foot civic center
  • 3.38 million square feet of office space spread between the sites
  • More than 183,000 square feet of restaurant space across both properties
  • More than 147,000 square feet of retail space in two shopping plazas
  • More than 35,000 square feet for an arts theater and music venue
A city review of the project plans found those components could generate nearly 71,000 daily vehicle trips in and out of the new development, a significant increase from the estimated 322 daily trips in and out of the existing industrial and office facilities, and well above city-recommended traffic levels for the surrounding roadways.

What's happening

Austin's Zoning and Platting Commission approved zoning updates for the east and west sides of the project Dec. 19.

The move came with community member support, over some reservations about the landmark project's size and the environmental impacts it could bring to the Colorado River ecosystem.

Lee Edwards, a South East Colorado River Neighborhood Association representative who lives across from the Bolm site on the Colorado, said neighbors had been opposed to the project until just minutes before the December zoning hearing kicked off.

The plans advanced after they reached a tentative agreement with developers to maintain a 250-foot buffer between the river and the project, and to make any musical venues ancillary to new restaurants rather than stand-alone outdoor spaces. Neighborhood association President Julia Maffei said protecting the environment around the river was a priority for residents.

Next steps for the project's review have not yet been scheduled.

Quote of note

“We’re not against development, but we think it should be done right. This area is not an industrial wasteland, it’s full of biological diversity. We need to protect bird migration and wildlife, and we understand that there’s going to be things done to do that," Maffei said. “We do know that Kairoi wants to build an unprecedented height of 180-feet tall buildings, which is going to totally change the character of our neighborhood. But we’re willing to accept that with this setback of 250 feet.”
A new mixed-use development is proposed on a pair of East Austin industrial sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact)
The proposed development's larger western portion would transform a concrete plant off US 183 and Levander Loop. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact)