Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Austin Condo Hell Film Festival (Part 2)

We proudly present: Homewrecker!  For your slacker enjoyment...

Now this we like!

From the Statesman:

"City leaders have urged developers to build more affordable housing downtown with little success. Now, Austin plans to put its money where its mouth is with the upcoming sale and redevelopment of the Green Water Treatment Plant and nearby Austin Energy property.

Blunting the developers' argument that land and building costs downtown are just too high, city officials plan to give them no choice but to include low- to moderate-priced housing in the redevelopment of the nearly four city blocks..."

Click here to read the full article.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


From the Austin Business Journal:

"More than three years after Austin developer Tom Stacy and a Chicago partner company purchased the building at 501 Congress Ave. and unveiled plans for a dramatic multiuse tower on the site, the deal has grown much larger, incorporating one-and-a-half city blocks, two soaring towers and an estimated $500 million investment.

Stacy's company, T. Stacy & Associates Inc., and Walton Street Capital now plan a 500,000-square-foot office and retail tower at 501 Congress that would be slightly taller than the 26-story Bank of America Center building the partnership owns at 515 Congress next door. The group is also plotting a hotel and condo tower at the corner of Brazos and Fifth streets that would rise more than 800 feet, making it by far the tallest building in Austin and the sixth-tallest in Texas."

Click here to read the full article.


We aren't quite sure what to make of this news...  The apartments on S. Congress that we almost moved into when we first moved to Austin in 2005 are now becoming condos!  Check out 2020 Congress and let us know your thoughts.

Austin condos -- good investment (so far...)

From an article about the national condo market, Austin gets a very special shout out as a market where prices are actually appreciating:

"Austin, Texas, is an area that saw steady growth from year to year. The NAR reported the median condo price in the fourth quarter of 2007 was $173,200, up 7.6 percent from $160,900 at the end of 2006. That’s no surprise to Paul Perez, operations manager for the Live Well Team, part of Prudential Texas Realty in Austin. Perez said Austin benefits from being the state capital of Texas, and the location of the University of Texas' Austin campus. “We’re not as affected as other markets (by the economy),” Perez said today, noting that prices for condos in Austin rose steadily rather than skyrocketing as they did in some metro markets across the United States in recent years. “Texans aren’t’ going to pay an exorbitant amount and density isn’t a problem here as it in New York or California.” Perez said there are condos for every price point in Austin, noting his firm just sold a one-bedroom condo in Downtown Austin last week for $145,000 but also has listings for luxury developments. One property his firm is marketing is Star Riverside, a lakefront development where prices start in the $600,000 range.?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

See, they can't shut up about it either

From today's Statesman:  Urban Urges.

Makes us feel all corporate and tingly all over

Here is some interesting info about the Four Seasons condo development downtown.  From the Post Properties Q4 2007 Earnings Call (they're the developers):

"Last month we commenced construction of the Four Seasons Residences in Austin. Austin has one of the stronger housing markets in the country and pre-sale activity has been very good. We’ve written contracts on nearly a third of the units representing nearly 40% of the aggregate sales revenue."

Then in the Q & A section:

"Louis W. Taylor – Deutsche Banc Alex Brown

And then Dave lastly, in terms of the Austin condo Four Seasons project you just started how firm are those presale commitments? What’s the size of the deposits?

David P. Stockert

We’re generally collecting 10% deposits and these are fairly expensive units so it’s very sizable absolute deposit commitment. That project benefits from its location from the Four Seasons brand from its hotel services although it’s got its own set of amenities and high quality. It’s being very well received.

Louis W. Taylor – Deutsche Banc Alex Brown

Is that deposit refundable?

David P. Stockert


Ouch.  Er, we mean, good for them! :{p}

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It wasn't us!

We swear! From the Statesman today:

"The Austin Fire Department is looking for a man who allegedly set three fires inside a downtown condominium building being built at 603 Davis Street, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Charles Ellis Nelson, 36, was charged today with arson, a first-degree felony. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison."

You can read the full article (and the kind of weird details) here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sending out a call.

I am an advocate for change and growth in Austin, I mean, we have no choice. Change and growth will happen, whether we support it or not, because it is such an amazing place. I merely ask we conduct our changes responsibly and thoughtfully. What do y’all think? Here ye here ye, calling all philosophers. Philosophize!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hear, Hear!

New commentary in the Statesman today by Frank Fernandez, executive directory of the Community Partnership for the Homeless.
Frank writes:

"As a symbol of who we are, downtown should be an inclusive neighborhood with housing for all Austinites, including those who work there — from the woman who takes your parking ticket at a garage, to those who clean downtown offices, to the baristas who help us get going in the morning, to the musicians who make Austin the live music capital of the world."

"Some have suggested that the best use of downtown land does not include affordable housing. But as a city, we must broaden our definition of best use beyond financial terms. Housing is part of our basic infrastructure — like libraries, roads and public safety. Housing serves as a hub for socio-economic opportunity. It can shape what types of jobs we have access to, how safe we are, which schools our kids go to and what kind of health care we receive — all foundational features of our quality of life. To continue to think about land use from a strictly economic perspective denies many Austinites access to the opportunity born of the city's revitalization."

We couldn't agree more!  Way to go, Frank!

P.S. You can read the entire article here.


Austin Condo Hell is wondering why someone was operating the construction elevator at the 360 condo highrise tonight (Thursday) at 10:30PM (!). Well?
It was freezing out, and there were tons of people on the street after shows got out from Austin Music Hall and La Zona Rosa. Maybe someone went on a little joy ride?  

If so, let us know what the views look like...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The downtown condo development that we now hate the least, The Four Seasons, has got a seriously freaky cool video posted on YouTube...  
It's an immersive, 3D simulation of what it will be like to live there. Note at the beginning in the fly-by:  they inserted the building into downtown where it's gonna go.  Pretty freakin' cool!  (It makes our geek heart go pitter-patter.)

Check it out:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We just found this humdinger of a site...

It's from a realtor in Vancouver, BC on What To Do When Buying New Construction (and What Not To Do).  
We discovered it while researching developer contracts and how they vary from standard real estate contracts.  And we think it applies every bit to the market here in Austin!

To wit:

"You may want to have an attorney review all contracts.
Developer contracts favor the developer and are different from standard local real estate board approved contracts. Retain a real estate attorney to review all contracts. There is little wiggle-room once you sign a developers contract, and they don't like home sale contingencies." 

Hallelujah, brother!  That's just one of the two dozen or so pointers on the site on how not to get screwed when buying new construction...  Word up!

Austin is becoming more like NY every day

Breaking news (literally) from the Austin Statesman:

Sayeth the article:

'Charles Heimsath, a local real estate consultant hired to do market research for the Four Seasons project, and at one point for the Austonian, said those projects are setting a new bar for luxury downtown. 

Four Seasons residents will have access to the hotel's services and amenities, including 24-hour concierge, in-room dining and housekeeping. There will also be a 2,000-square-foot fitness center, facilities for entertaining and a rooftop pool, which will be the highest in Texas, the developers say.

"I think the Four Seasons has demonstrated by virtue of the number of contracts that there is a viable demand for ultra-luxury product in downtown Austin," Heimsath said.'

So, at $400k to $4M+, you get to live in a hotel.  A really swanky hotel.  (How very Eloise of us.)  

We kind of get this tho...  We want room service, massages, turn down service and chocolates on our pillows every night, too.  So if you gotta pay to live downtown (and pay that kind of money for it), this at least kind of makes sense to us.  Go figure.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Austin Condo Hell Film Festival Proudly Presents...

We could very well have made this video ourselves.  But we didn't have to because somebody already did.  Austin condo ennui at it's very best...  We present:  Condo Tower Thang.  Enjoy!

We love this blog!

No, not ours... This one:  AustinTowers.  It's chock-full of incredibly useful info on all of the downtown condo developments.  And on the main part of their site they have a comprehensive list of ALL of the developments, past and present, with profiles, MLS listings, rankings (guess what the highest price per sq. ft. is gonna be?  $625/sq. ft.!), and lots more (we had to stop, we were getting too excited. :) 
It's serious, factual and informative.  We don't intend to be factual -- er, we mean serious -- here at Austin Condo Hell, so we recommend AustinTowers very highly...

While you were sleeping

The Dallas Business Journal is reporting that two new uber-pricey condo developments are slated for the burgeoning S. Lamar corridor and (of course) downtown Austin:
"Dallas-based Urbana Communities and Austin-based Cypress Real Estate Advisors have broken ground on the 42-unit Zocalo and 8-unit Mira Vista town home developments in Austin. Zocalo, located near Lamar Boulevard and Manchaca Road, will have condos priced from $400,000 to $650,000 while the units at Mira Vista in downtown Austin will range from $800,000 to $1.5 million."

If not for how impossible it is for us to shut up, we would be outright speechless.  $650k for condos on S. Lamar?!  They better be friggin' cavernous, is all we have to say...

Click here to read the full article.  

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The time has come...

Well, actually the time has past, but that is another point altogether.
Time for what you ask?  A time for a blog dedicated to the stupidest, most dessicated, most pointless new condo market in the country:  Austin, TX.  

(Or not.  We can't decide.  Basically, we love Austin but we are not sure about... condos.)  

What we do know is that there is all sorts of weirdness afoot, and so like any self-respecting techno-person we have decided to blog about it.  

And we want to blog about it with you.  So tell us your stories, your experiences, your advice to the condo-lorn.  And we'll blog about it. Here at...

Austin Condo Hell.

Lasciate ogne sperance, voi ch'intrate
"Abandon hope all ye who enter here"