Block 87, also known as Trinity Block, may be the last undeveloped city block in downtown Austin. A parking lot currently sits there, but a high-rise is slated to go up.
The National Episcopal Church bought the property in 2009 with the idea to house its archives on it. Now, church leaders envision a mixed-use project.
“We wanted to develop this, not so much as a museum, a more interactive museum would be the right word, but [as] another venue for Austin,” the Rev. Canon Lang Lowrey, who manages the parking lot and is overseeing its development, said.
Developers say the site has more than 600,000 square feet of space to build on. Lowrey said the development could include public space for community meetings and that the church plans to work with St. David’s Episcopal Church next door to provide more services for the homeless. The Austin Center for the Homeless is just across the street.
Lowrey said safety is an important consideration for the development.
“Surface parking, even though it’s well-lit, can kind of be dead zones" that attract crime, he said. "So we’re designing this project to improve those conditions."
Austin-based real estate firm Cielo Property Group was selected to the block. Founder Bobby Dillard said developers have not made a final decision, but they’re considering office space, residential units, retail or a hotel for the property.
“The beauty is, right now, it looks like most of those uses will work, and so we’re just going through a feasibility study of what adds the most value to the project, to the area," he said. "What’s going to serve working with this active archive."
Most of the lot sits within a Capitol View Corridor, which means only a section of it can be built as a high-rise. Many of the adjacent buildings on Block 87 won't be as tall.
“The view corridor’s not exactly a fixed elevation because we’re on a hill, so I can’t tell you exactly what the height’s going to be," Dillard said. "But what I can tell you is that our architects and engineers are making sure that the building envelope stays below that.”
Dillard said developers expect to break ground on the project early next year.