By Parimal M. Rohit – Austin Business Journal
Offices, apartments to rise next to Oracle HQ — and that’s just a start for this massive E. Austin development
A mammoth, mixed-use development long-planned along East Austin’s Riverside Drive is slowly starting to come into focus, as Switzerland-based Partners Group AG and Dallas-based Presidium Group LLC on June 30 released plans for the first phase a project now called River Park.
Two class A-plus buildings totaling 420,000 square feet and a 370-unit mid-rise apartment building will rise at the River Park site, which is at 4700 E. Riverside Dr. just east of the Oracle headquarters.
River Park, a master-planned community, will occupy 109 acres between Roy G. Guerrero River Metro Park, E. Riverside Dr., Pleasant Valley Road and Country Club Creek.
The first phase will take up 15 acres of that site, just east of Wickersham Lane and running along the frontage of E. Riverside Dr.
“River Park is a 10 million-square-foot, transit-oriented development in Austin’s East Riverside corridor. The transit coming to the corridor is a huge component of smart growth for our city,” Michael Piano of Presidium said.
The first phase of development at River Park also will include 12,000 square feet of ground-level retail and about 1 acre of open space and parkland. The open space would be available for active programming and gatherings.
The interiors of the office buildings will feature touchless systems, a fitness center, electric vehicle parking, bicycle storage and indoor air quality monitoring technology.
An affordable housing initiative, meanwhile, will be implemented for the apartment building. Some units will be offered at 60 percent of the area median income. Amenities offered at the apartment building include a clubhouse and rooftop pool.
Phase one of River Park — previously known as Project Catalyst — will also feature stormwater harvesting and rain gardens.
Building about 10 million square feet of mixed-use development will take between 10 to 20 years, developers estimate.
The 109 acres is broken into 24 urban size parcels/blocks. This first phase takes up two or three blocks, and the total number of phases required to execute the entirety of River Park is variable.
Piano stressed River Park is not a retail-centric development, but instead an expansion of the city’s urban core.
“This is one-of-a-kind in Austin. The density aspect, with 160 feet in height, is going to warrant mid-rise construction throughout. I think it’s going to have a lot of features of big-city development, that you might see in Denver or the West Coast or Chicago,” Piano said.
The project is also being built along one of Capital Metro’s growth corridors. The public transit agency plans to build the Blue Line rail along E. Riverside Dr. River Park will be built adjacent to the line, giving those living, working and playing at the master-planned community direct access to downtown and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Partners Group and Presidium are in the advance stages of the development’s design phase. They hope to secure city approvals and permits by early 2022. It’s unclear when construction will begin.
The master-planned project had its fair share of opposition and pushback.
The proposal has been around for a few years, and while proponents said it will bring much-needed density to a city in need of more housing and urban, mixed-use projects, opponents fought the rezoning — dubbing it “The Domain on Riverside” — due to worries of gentrification and the eminent demolition of affordable housing complexes.
Austin, of course, has seen other master-planned communities be proposed or delivered in recent years. The Domain, often referred to as Austin’s second downtown, receives the most notoriety. The Mueller area just north of downtown Austin is the largest master-planned redevelopment on city-owned land.
On the east side, Catellus Development Corp. — which brought Mueller to fruition — and the city of Austin came to terms to develop Colony Park, a master-planned community on 208-acre tract of land in Northeast Austin, a little more than one year ago.
Joining Partners Group and Presidium on the first phase of River Park’s office component is Houston-based Hines, which will be the development manager.
CBRE’s Austin office is tasked with marketing and leasing the office spaces.
Presidium, in addition to being the master developer, will develop the apartment building.
Others working on the first phase are Gensler (office architect), Nudge Design (site and office landscape architect), Humphreys & Partners Architects LP (residential architect), Hitchcock Design Group (residential landscape architect) and Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. (civil engineer).
Partners Group is the lead real estate investment manager.