Hotel, condo, supermarket proposed for lot between church and homeless shelter
Another high-rise building is being proposed in downtown Austin, but this time the location is raising some eyebrows.
The new project, called Block 87, is slated for the large, empty parking lot at Seventh and Trinity Streets. It's one the last privately owned, undeveloped blocks in downtown Austin. The parking lot is wedged between St. David's Episcopal Church and the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. According to city records, preliminary plans call for 280 residential condo units, 260 hotel rooms, office space, two restaurants and a supermarket. The space would also serve as a permanent home for the Episcopal Church's archives.
"I don't know how I feel about the hotels and condos because of the homeless community over here. There are a lot of incidents. There are a lot of issues and I'm a little tentative of what people would think of that and how they would handle the homeless community around here," says Julia Babin who works downtown. Though Babin does think the supermarket has major appeal for those living and working in the area.
It's no secret Austin's homeless population is centralized one block off historic Sixth Street, which is a top tourist destination for the city.
"We have a ridiculously large homeless population walking around this area during the day and retailers … they won't tolerate that," says Bob Woody, a downtown business owner involved with more than 20 properties. Woody welcomes the new development.
"I am very excited about it. I want to see it move forward. I think it kind of drags a rough neighborhood into a softer market," he says, adding that he hopes the project could be a catalyst for finding a solution to downtown's crowded shelters.
"You can intake [the homeless population there], but the work of re-entering them into society should be done away from the entertainment district where there's a lot of bars, a lot of alcohol and things like this," Woody suggests.
Currently the development is very much in the preliminary stages. The City of Austin Planning and Zoning department says multiple reviews and changes could leave final plans for the site pending for several months.