Crane Crazy


The 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival T-shirt was a classic. That shirt featured the downtown skyline…plus about a dozen construction cranes. Back then, I would have never guessed that five years later Bill and I would be living in a highrise built by those cranes.

Now fast forward to 2013. Downtown Austin is experiencing another building boom. More cranes—and major changes to the skyline—are on the horizon:


The Gables Park Plaza II apartments near Lamar are almost topped out at 18 floors. This building hugs the corner of the curve in the railroad tracks, so let’s hope a lot of extra soundproofing is going into those walls. The new tower blocks lake views for some existing Plaza I apartments as well as for the lower floors of The Spring condos.


Site work has started on another apartment highrise called 3 eleven Bowie at the corner of Fifth and Bowie, catty-cornered from the downtown Whole Foods. This 36-story office/retail/apartment complex is close to both the Spring and the Monarch and will block some views for those buildings.


Most of the old Spaghetti Warehouse building at Fourth and Colorado has been gutted.  Exterior brick walls from the original 1902 warehouse were left standing, but not much else. Restaurants are expected to open here but no leases have been announced yet.


Over on East Third, the Hyatt Place hotel and Whitley apartments are nearing completion. The Whitley rises 16 floors; Hyatt Place has 14 stories. Hotel guests on the north side should have a perfect view of the Whitley pool deck on the sixth floor. Hyatt Place is accepting reservations starting March 5th, opening just in time for SXSW.


Another new apartment building, SkyHouse Austin, is underway on Rainey Street over near I-35. These apartments will have nice views, but the combination of bars, narrow roads and limited parking make that neighborhood a challenging place to live.


The largest downtown project (at the moment) is the new JW Marriott on Congress and Second. Three cranes are busy working on this huge site. A webcam has been set up to monitor progress.

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