After several unexpected snags, work on an oft-discussed 24-story mixed-use residential and hotel development near Austin’s Republic Square Park is picking up steam with a concrete end date in sight.
Officials with Gables Residential and Z Resorts Management recently discussed their respective projects — Gables Republic Square and Hotel ZaZa Austin — that will occupy property along West 4th Street, between Guadalupe and Lavaca streets.
Plans calling for completing the joint 221-unit Gables and 159-key ZaZa site in early 2019.
The Class-A project first came to light in mid-2013, and the first visible signs of progress occurred a year later as site prep work began. But the timeline for completing it has been pushed back on a few occasions.
“It’s a complicated project,” Sue Ansel, president and CEO of Gables Residential said. “It’s been a long process, but we feel good about (completion) happening (in 2019).”
This summer, as construction got underway, reports had surfaced of standing water in the area as a potential underground spring was struck. The heart of the issue was at 4th and Guadalupe streets as crews began laying the building’s foundation.
Work stopped while construction crews removed the water in a code-compliant manner, and the issues were eventually remedied.
Benji Homsey, president of brand and development for Z Resorts, said the issues linked to standing water were anticipated and insignificant.
“We knew we were going to hit ground water, and we did what had to be done to de-water the site,” Homsey said. “It wasn’t a surprise, and it turned out to be a non-issue.”
Although the physical construction of the project is in its early stages, the behind-the-scenes planning efforts have been extensive.
Many of the hotel and residential functions within the building will be segregated, though there will be a few synergistic opportunities. Case in point: Plans call for Hotel ZaZa staffers offering a limited room-service menu to permanent Gables residents.
Gables and Hotel ZaZa have agreed on a unique shared arrangement of floor occupancy, based on what works best for each entity. The plan layout is as follows:
- Ground Floor — Hotel ZaZa; lobby, valet, bar and spa
- Floors 2 to 6 — Gables and Hotel ZaZa; parking
- Floor 7 — Hotel ZaZa; ballroom, restaurants and pool
- Floors 8 to 12 — Hotel ZaZa; guest rooms
- Floors 13 to 24 — Gables; residential units
Rooftop access for residents also is included in the plans as a selling feature. It will offer up panoramic views of Austin’s skyline and also serve as a community area with such amenities as a pool, hot tub, outdoor kitchen, fireplace, clubroom, library and fitness center.
In terms of architectural detail, Ansel said historical elements are being infused into the new building. Nabisco once housed a warehouse, opened in 1906, at the same site, and the development falls within Austin’s historic Warehouse District.
The assorted energy-efficient elements have also earned the development an Austin Energy Green Building status, with a two-star rating.
“It serves as the inspiration of what we’re doing now,” Ansel said, pointing out the exterior is designed to mimick many of the architectural features of yesteryear. “Some of the brick from the old building is being saved.”
While Gables and Hotel Z Resorts have divergent businesses, each said they wanted to work together on this project and be a part of Austin’s continuously emerging downtown skyline.
“We love Austin,” Ansel said. “There is a very strong, vibrant community, and we feel this project is going to be a tremendous success.”
Z Resorts already has other Texas-based Hotel ZaZa properties in operation in Dallas and Houston. Homsey said Austin was the next logical step in the company’s growth strategy.
“We saw an untapped market,” Homsey said. “This makes a lot of sense to us.”