Redevelopment in the Works for an Entire Downtown Block

November 10, 2016 by Kate Harrington

A downtown block owned by the University of Texas System will be redeveloped by Trammell Crow Co.

The Central Business District site, spanning 1.6 acres between West Sixth and Seventh Streets on one side and Colorado and Lavaca Streets on its other side, will be almost completely torn down to make way for mixed-use buildings, Trammell Crow executives told the Austin Business Journal.

One building that will remain almost as it is today is the Claudia Taylor Johnson Hall, named after President Lyndon Johnson’s wife. That building, erected in 1914, will keep its south and west facades with detailed stonework and stately columns. The rest of the block, however, will be demolished.

Claudia Taylor Johnson Hall
The south and west facades of the Claudia Taylor Johnson Hall will remain. (Image via Texas Historical Commission / University of North Texas Libraries [link])
Kirk Tames, the UT Systems’ executive director of real estate, told the ABJ that the new development will include residential and commercial space. Since the land is not in the Capital View Corridor, there isn’t any height restriction on new construction. Redevelopment of that block will bring some life back to that part of downtown, Tames says.

“If you walk that block at night, up and down Sixth Street, this is the one block that has no open businesses,” Tames told the ABJ. “Right now it’s not very dense at all and at night it’s dead.”

The site is currently home to UT System offices, but with construction of a new tower nearby, officials are planning to consolidate downtown UT Systems facilities into the new building by next fall. That new building will also feature ground-floor retail.


The UT System selected Trammell Crow over three other companies that submitted proposals, saying their knowledge of Austin permitting and the market will be a good fit for the area. Trammell Crow is also redeveloping Green Water Treatment Plant, near to the UT System site, as a mixed-use development.

The UT System Board of Regents voted today to authorize negotiations for a long-term ground lease for the project, which will clear the way for Trammell Crow to begin the permitting process. The ground lease is estimated to bring the UT System at least $1.4 million per year. Estimated construction and completion dates haven’t been announced yet.

Block 71 proposal rendering
This concept rendering from Minguell-McQuary Architecture (link) proposes a mix of uses on the site. It is not known whether this will be the final configuration for the project.
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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.