Austin’s New Tallest: The Independent Breaks Ground

January 17, 2016 by Kate Harrington

Sometimes much-touted Austin projects take a long time to come together; not so for the Independent, a luxury condo tower that’s also been dubbed the “Jenga tower.” Not long after announcing that they had closed on 1.7 acres of land at West and Third Street, The Independent’s developers oversaw a groundbreaking on Jan. 11.

“When I became Austin’s mayor, parts of downtown were dotted with blight and virtually dead at night,” said Senator Kirk Watson. “Some of us saw the potential to bring our downtown alive but needed some pioneering developers to take a chance and be the first. The people behind The Independent were among those pioneers and they have helped transform Austin’s downtown into the vibrant and inviting community it is today. Breaking ground for The Independent demonstrates that our shared vision is now a part of downtown’s reality.”

The 58-story, $300 million Independent will be the city’s tallest building once it’s completed.

The Independent’s developers have said that the front of the building will be a public space, and will include improvements to the Shoal Creek Trail that will connect the trail with the hike and bike trail and a pedestrian bridge. The ground floor will be dedicated to retail space, and under the terms of the City’s agreement with developers, it will be occupied by only Austin businesses, with 25 percent of the retail space reserved for women- and minority-owned businesses.

Units will range in price from the mid-$300,000s to more than $3 million, and ranging in size from 675 square feet to more than 3,400 square feet. It’s also the first downtown condo tower to market to young families, with indoor and outdoor play areas for children planned.

The tract The Independent will rise one was once home to the Austin Energy Control Center. In 2010, the City of Austin and Constructive Ventures entered into a Master Development Agreement for the sale and redevelopment of the full city block. The Economic Development Department led the project on behalf of the city. Los Angeles-based CIM Group provided significant equity, and has joined the project as a co-developer.

Balfour Beatty Construction is the general contractor, and Rhode:Partners is the architect.

(rendering courtesy of Rhode:Partners and Neezo Renders)

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.