Capital Metro Breaks Ground on Plaza Saltillo

The 11-acre transit-oriented development will replace an abandoned brownfield site and will feature apartments, office space, retail outlets, open space and public art.

Capital Metro and a partnership between Endeavor Real Estate Group and Columbus Realty Partners broke ground on Plaza Saltillo District in East Austin. The project will transform an abandoned site into a mixed-use development featuring apartments, office space, retail outlets, open space and public art.

The Plaza Saltillo District is a transit-oriented development (TOD) situated on 11 acres that will transform the city’s former train depot into a mixed-use, multimodal community east of downtown Austin. Upon completion, the development will be served by a range of transportation options, such as MetroRail, MetroBus, Car2Go, Austin B-cycle, pedestrian paseos as well as an extension of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway from downtown Austin.

“The Plaza Saltillo District is the realization of a shared vision of literally hundreds of talented and dedicated people, and reflects more than 20 years of input from surrounding neighborhoods, businesses, elected leaders and community stakeholders,” Linda Watson, Capital Metro’s president & CEO, said in prepared remarks. “We are very grateful for all of their efforts in the creation of this future vibrant and transit-rich neighborhood that will help address two of the region’s biggest problems—mobility and affordability.”

Increasing mobility

Endeavor is extending the Lance Armstrong Bikeway from under I-35 at 4th Street to Plaza Saltillo and includes pedestrian/bike-only paseos, enabling residents from the north and south to conveniently pass through the property. Reserved Car2Go parking will be available along with public parking in below-ground facilities. San Marcos Street will also be extended as part of the project.

The Plaza Saltillo development will consist of:

  • 11 acres, 10 of which are to be redeveloped. The 1 acre that contains Plaza Saltillo and the MetroRail station will not be under construction, but are considered part of the district.
  • Six continuous city blocks from I-35 to Onion Street, between 4th and 5th streets.
  • Approximately 800 residential units.
  • 141 units (17.6 percent) are reserved for residents who earn up to 50 percent of Austin’s median family income.
  • 110,000 square feet of retail.
  • 140,000 square feet of office space, primarily in an 8-story office tower at I-35 that includes retail on the first floor.
  • 1.4 acres of public open space (parks, a paseo and bikeways).
  • Works created by local artists, including tiles created in the style of Austin’s sister city of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico.

Growing Capital Metro ridership

In order to accommodate the new development without disrupting the MetroRail service, Capital Metro has realigned the tracks between Downtown Station and Plaza Saltillo, moving them from their initial location in the center of the property to its southern edge along 4th Street. Remediation work has already begun on parts of the site as well as preparation for construction on the below-grade parking structure that will support the office building will begin this summer. Endeavor anticipates the process will take approximately 30 months.

“A primary goal of this project is to increase ridership on Capital Metro services—not just for the agency’s benefit, but because successful public transit serves the whole region,” Sabino “Pio” Renteria, a member of both the Capital Metro board of directors and the Austin City Council, said in a prepared statement. “With more than 1,700 people living and working there, the Plaza Saltillo District will be able to do just that.”

Double the office space

Earlier this year, the City Council approved zoning that included a four-story office building, but granted Endeavor the option to increase the height of the property to eight stories, provided that additional contributions are made toward enhancing affordability in the surrounding area. In April, the Capital Metro board unanimously approved an amendment to the ground lease that incentivized Endeavor to move forward with the development of the eight-story building.

“Plaza Saltillo will connect East Austin with downtown and bring even more vibrancy to East Austin while enhancing the local flavor of that community. The project will emphasize local jobs, local design, local artists and local retail—all in a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. We’re honored to work with Capital Metro and all stakeholders to make this vision a reality,” Jason Thumlert, a principal with Endeavor Real Estate Group, said in prepared remarks.

Images courtesy of Capital Metro