Construction begins on Austin's tallest building

Construction started Jan. 11 on a 58-story, 370-unit condominium tower, which will be the tallest building in downtown Austin.

Construction started Jan. 11 on a 58-story, 370-unit condominium tower, which will be the tallest building in downtown Austin.

Construction began Jan. 11 on a site that State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, called "a lego project gone wild" in the middle of downtown Austin.

The Independent is projected to be the tallest building in the city at nearly 700 feet and is slated to include 370 residential units, a dog park, spa, theater and conference rooms as well as about 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, according to marketing materials.

At the Jan. 11 groundbreaking ceremony, Watson referred to downtown Austin as the "living room of the community" and described the city center as being transformed into an innovative and vibrant economic hub that supports both commercial and residential uses.

"It's now a downtown that emphasizes the economy, that makes Austin a focal point in a worldwide information and knowledge economy," he said. "Ultimately it comes down to people who were willing to take a risk and push in our downtown."

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said The Independent will not just affect the immediate downtown Austin area but will also benefit the city as a whole. Through the dedication of a property tax increment associated with The Independent project, the city will receive approximately $18 million toward its affordable housing trust fund, he said.

"[Downtown Austin] is not only the living room to our community, it's our community's piggy bank," Adler said.

The residential units at The Independent—which range in price from the mid-$400,000s to $3.4 million—will average about 1,300 square feet and offer patios or balconies and 10-foot ceilings, according to marketing materials.

Future Independent resident Tinisha Stone said she was drawn to the residential tower's unique architecture and dog-friendly environment.

"We just think it's going to be a very iconic building and hopefully very desirable for resale," she said. "And the location is completely ideal."

The Independent representatives said they expect construction to take around three years.