Proposed 400-unit, mixed-use development in St. Elmo district seeks final Austin City Council approval

Austin City Council could approve the project at its Feb. 6 meeting. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council could approve the project at its Feb. 6 meeting. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin City Council could approve the project at its Feb. 6 meeting. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Following almost four months in front of City Council, a dense, 400-unit mixed-use development planned for the 4.3-acre tract at 600 Industrial Blvd. could receive final approval from Austin City Council in early February.

The project, proposed in the rapidly developing area just south of the intersection of South Congress Avenue and Ben White Boulevard, first touched the City Council dais in October. After a track that included a pair of preliminary approvals and a pair of postponements, City Council is scheduled to decide Feb. 6 whether to grant a necessary zoning change and propel the project forward.

Of the 400 units, the developers plan to offer 10% of the units at subsidized rates, with 16 of the units offered to people making 80% of the median family income—$75,500 for a family of four, $52,850 for an individual—and 24 of the units offered to those making 60% or below of the median family income—$56,760 for a family of four, $39,780 for an individual. According to Fletcher Roberts of Keller Capital, the property’s owner, the affordability details remain to be finalized.

Along with the 400 units, the project would also bring 12,850 square feet of retail uses and a 5,326-square-foot brewery. Part of City Council’s approval is to allow the project to reach 85 feet high, or roughly seven stories.

The St. Elmo district has experienced heightened demand in recent years. Since 2017, four mixed-use projects have been approved for the area, bringing 702 multifamily units and roughly 21,000 square feet of commercial space. With approval of the 600 Industrial Blvd. project, those numbers would jump to 1,102 multifamily units and 39,076 square feet of commercial space.

Attempts to reach Mario Cantu, the head of the South Congress Neighborhood Contact Team, which has been working with the developer on the project, were unsuccessful by press time. During a Dec. 5 preliminary City Council approval, Cantu said allowing the development to go to 85 feet high would be unprecedented for the “industrial core” area in which the property is located, where the tallest buildings typically only reach 60 feet.

Cantu said the neighborhood contact team had been pushing for 10% of the units in the project to be offered at 60% of the median family income. At the time, the developer was offering 5% at 80% median-family income, and 5% at 60% median-family income. It has since been edited to 4% and 6%.

“This is a huge big piece and chunk of property in Austin,” Cantu said in December. “You have to think, is there going to be a trickle effect from this property that is going to be caused on all the adjacent properties in the future that is going to displace these highly skilled workers, their families, etc.?”

During the Dec. 5 meeting, District 3 City Council Member Pio Renteria voted in favor of the project, but called the decision “tough.”

“We’re giving up a lot of entitlements here,” Renteria said about the increased height. “We’re going to be losing a lot of our industrial sites in that area and commercial sites. I’m willing to convert that whole area, but ... I really feel like we need to be able bring in affordability into that area, and I don’t feel like we have enough there. I don’t want to turn this into a high-income area where South Austin cannot afford to live there anymore.”
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


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