Officials for a new creative district called thinkEast submitted a Planned Unit Development application Aug. 7 for a residential/business development on 24 acres of land at 1150 Shady Lane. The development will include residential housing along with public, studio and retail space.
“It's geared for the creative community,” said Richard deVarga, co-owner, architect and developer of the thinkEast project. “The creative community has a strong foothold in central East Austin, and this is a way to create a hub for what's already there existing.”
According to the thinkEast PUD preapplication, the district will use “modern and sustainable architecture to stimulate job growth and diversity in East Austin's economy, culture and community.”
The PUD zoning is meant to encourage preservation of the natural environment, innovative designs, and adequate public facilities and services. The PUD application gives developers options when determining use, building placement and other design factors. The minimum size for a PUD district is 10 acres.
“Creative people in Austin have to rent an apartment, then they have to go rent a studio, which will cost them even more money,” thinkEast co-owner Robert Summers said. "We know there's a demand for these kinds of spaces. … I think we'll be overrun with people that want them.”
Both Summers and deVarga are focused on affordability and are working on an agreement with Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corp. to purchase about 8 acres of land and provide about 150 rental or ownership units, ranging from single-family to multifamily units, that would be affordable to those making 30 to 80 percent of Austin's median family income.
The development has also received support from the Govalle and Johnston Terrace neighborhoods.
The development is is estimated to cost $30 million–$35 million and could include 28 building complexes totaling about 300,000 square feet of space with up to 50 percent of the acreage being left undeveloped.
“We want it to have a park-like setting,” deVarga said.
The land has more than 1,000 feet of fence line adjoining Govalle Park, and deVarga said there are plans of keeping two parcels of land undeveloped to allow the park to extend around the development.
DeVarga has worked on other developments in the Austin area, including the Pedernales Lofts, Cobra Studios and Smith/Works, and he said thinkEast is a kind of culmination of the ideas from those other projects.
The next step in the zoning approval process is presenting the application to the Austin City Council, and Summers said the council could see it within 30 to 45 days. Officials hope to start construction on the project as early as 2013.
For more information, visit www.thinkeastaustin.com.