All the local publications have the big story about 44 East, a new 51-story condo tower set to rise on a very desirable parcel at the lakeshore tip of the historic Rainey Street District.
Yet none of them answer the question about how Canadian developer Intracorp landed that sweet spot and how far along the development process has really progressed. So I’ve done the research for those who desire a deeper dive.
For starters, there are a lot of bureaucratic hoops to leap through and construction isn’t even projected to start for another 18 months. Despite Austin’s ultra robust development scene there are still mega projects announced a few years ago that haven’t taken shape. In fact one of them is in the Rainey District — Waller Park Place. Last time I checked, owner McCourt Global was still looking for capital. A project announced is not a project completed.
So back to 44 East Ave. Both parcels are owned by local investors. LROC Properties Southwest LP, headed by Larry R. O’Connor — he owns Other World Computing (macsales.com) and there’s a Wikipedia entry all about it. Deed documents filed in association with the Intracorp plan review at the city of Austin show LROC purchased the building and lot at 44 East Ave. in August 2012.
O’Connor’s Other World Computing company appears to be the major tenant of the 16,090-square-foot building. It was constructed in 1983 on about 0.60 acres. The property was most recently valued at $5,509,770.
The second parcel is 42 East Ave. It was purchased in January by an entity (42 East Avenue LLC) formed by Long View Equity Partners, an Austin investment management company headed by Dustin Johnson. That property includes a 4,700-square-foot building (circa 1967) on 0.10 acres. TCAD most recently valued the property at $1,025,429.
Johnson has an interesting background based on his LinkedIn profile. A University of Texas graduate, he also has a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. Johnson previously served in the Peace Corp. — he taught economics at a university in Kyrgyzstan.
Neither of these properties will likely sell to the developer until entitlements are firmly secured, and for now the amended plat remains under review by city staff.
That block of East Avenue is loaded with redevelopment plans. Directly north of the proposed 44 East project is the site that Austin-based Pearlstone Partners plans to develop, also as condos. Based on records at the city of Austin’s development review website, Pearlstone has obtained building permits, but no construction activity appears to be taking place. A Pearlstone spokesperson said she couldn’t comment at the moment.
North of Pearlstone’s site, World Class Capital Group owns a building that it plans to redevelop as a high rise, but for now sources tell me, the Austin-based investment company has completely remodeled 56 East Ave. as creative business space for Zengistics, a logistics and transportation startup that has been operating downtown until recently. The 18,000-square-foot building sits on about 1.2 acres. Records at the city show that The Burt Group handled tenant improvements.
The Rainey Street District is packing in new development for being such a tucked-in, secluded neighborhood.. Now if only the city or a public-private partnership would create a pedestrian mall along Rainey Street with a public parking structure that would make the cozy nook a little more navigable and safe for all.