Project Green Rendering

AUSTIN-A six-acre site containing the antiquated Green Water Treatment Plant and the Austin Energy Control Center is under contract to a partnership that is planning a $700-million, high-density, mixed-use project. Tentatively dubbed Project Green will be developed by Trammell Crow Co., USAA Real Estate Co. and Constructive Ventures Inc.

Project Green’s development site spans five city-owned blocks: Shoal Creek, Caesar Chavez, Nueces and 3rd streets and West Avenue. About two years will be needed before site work can begin. First, staff from the energy control center needs to be relocated and the Green Water Treatment Plant needs to be decommissioned. The developers plan to buy the land from the City of Austin after the plant is decommissioned.

“The plant is antiquated and the city had to build a new one elsewhere in the city,” says John Heffington, an associate with TCC’s Austin team. “The water treatment facility on that site is not the highest and best use for it.”

The joint venture envisions 2.6-million sf of condominiums, apartments, office, retail and hospitality space. The plan also will include a senior living facility and more than 5,200 parking spaces.

Although it’s too soon to know what exactly will go where, Lance Sallis, TCC’s managing director, tells the first piece of the project most likely will be the parking garage and the remaining phases built out based on market demand. The developers will seek LEED Gold certification for the entire project, which is being designed by Mithun Architects and Planners of Seattle.

TCC and San Antonio-based USAA previously have teamed on other developments, but it’s the first time that they’ve partnered with Austin-based Constructive Ventures. However, Sallis says the two companies’ management teams have been friends for a long time.

When the opportunity came to pitch a redevelopment plan for the Green Water Treatment Plant to the city, they decided to join forces. “We couldn’t have done this on our own,” Sallis says. “They have so much market experience and savvy and such a good reputation. We have the big balance sheet and also a good reputation. The two of us together were much stronger than we would have been individually.” The winners competed against Denver-based Catellus Development Corp., Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland and Simmons Vedder Partners and Stratus Properties Inc., both of Austin, for the development rights.

The JV will ticket 25% of the residential component as affordable units. They also will pay a density bonus to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In addition, they will pay $500,000 toward improvements of Shoal Creek, donate land for the completion of a missing section of the Shoal Creek trail between 4th and 5th streets and build a pedestrian bridge over the creek to connect the Project Green site to the redeveloped Seaholm Power Plant.