A South Congress development just south of Ben White Boulevard will provide amenities to the neighboring developments, according to one of its co-owners.

John Collins, president of St. Croix Capital Advisory Services Group LLC and partner in the acquisition of the newly rebranded "SoCo Park," located at 4930 S. Congress Ave., said he and his partners sought to provide resources to residents of the area who would otherwise have to commute to Central Austin.

"There is a lot of buzz down here," he said. "For a long time everyone saw urban infill development as having a southern boundary of Ben White, but enough has taken place that that type of development is now spilling over, and that is a very positive thing in my mind."

Developments in the SoCo Park vicinity, known as the St. Elmo District, include the Saint. Elmo Public Market, a mixed-use project slated to include an indoor-outdoor public market, food truck court, office space, a 150-room boutique hotel and a 360-unit apartment complex; PUBLIC Lofts, a 160-unit retail and residential apartment building; the Yard, a 150,000-square-foot revitalized warehouse district turned mixed-use development containing restaurants, commercial businesses, breweries and distilleries; and at least four other developments including office buildings, residential apartments and retail spaces.

SoCo Park

The exterior of the development was recently renovated to appeal to the new wave of tenants lined up by Collins and his partner William "Billy" White, he explained. Landscape upgrades, a fresh coat of paint on the exterior facades and the addition of crushed granite around the perimeter of the property has improved its overall aesthetics, Collins said.

"There has been a lot of interest in the property since it was rehabbed," he said.

Made up of three buildings and 41,534 square feet, Collins said he has executed two leases and is in the process of finalizing two more, which leaves one 6,700-square-foot space still available for lease. He remained tight-lipped on the identities of the new tenants; however, he disclosed that one unit is zoned for alcohol sales and all tenants will provide amenities, both restaurant and retail, to the residents and employees of nearby developments.

"We bought SoCo Park so we could put in restaurants and places where people could go shopping and provide those types of amenities for the apartments that are coming in," he said.

Tenants housed in the development prior to its acquisition included SoCo Home Brew, Tasco Auto Color and MooreCo, an educational supply company. Those businesses are still present in SoCo Park.

'South Lamar 2010'

Collins called the St. Elmo District "South Lamar 2010" for its striking resemblance to that corridor's appearance seven years ago.

"I spent my career from 2007 to 2013 focused on South Lamar," he said. "I watched all of the development come out of the ground. In 2010 we were in the front end of the wave of construction for multi-family [developments], and then the amenities came. It feels very much like that here."

Keenly aware of the adverse connotations associated with the word "gentrification," Collins said he believes revitalizing formerly industrialized areas such as the portion of South Congress past Ben White helps to accommodate the level of job growth in Austin, or what he calls the "backbone" of the city's economy. By bringing dense developments and amenities to South Austin, Collins hopes to alleviate some of the issues related to affordability.

"Something really unique about Austin is that local businesses are supported so well that I don't see gentrification as a bad thing," he said. "It regenerates the area and brings in new businesses that provide good amenities. Not a bunch of national retailers, just cool places to hang out, get food and go shopping, which is what makes Austin great."