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In Austin, A Cesar Pelli Project Is Shelved

January 28, 2009

By Tony Illia

A Cesar Pelli-designed office tower and art museum planned for downtown Austin, Texas, is the latest casualty of the economic downturn.

Houston-based developer Hines Interests LP has shelved plans for a 30-story, 434,000-square-foot glass high-rise and accompanying museum. Construction was scheduled to start in the first quarter of this year, with completion expected in early 2011.

Houston-based developer Hines Interests LP has shelved plans for a 30-story, 434,000-square-foot glass high-rise and accompanying museum.
Image courtesy Hines
Houston-based developer Hines Interests LP has shelved plans for a 30-story, 434,000-square-foot glass high-rise and accompanying museum.
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The high-rise, dubbed Museum Tower, would be located at 455 West 4th Street on land owned by the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA). The institution agreed to sell part of the property to Hines in exchange for construction of a new three-story, 40,000-square-foot museum, which is double the size of AMOA’s current, 13-year-old home at 823 Congress Avenue. Both the tower and museum are now on hold “due to the uncertain economy,” says Hines Vice President Travis Overall.

“The project will not restart until the market improves,” Overall says. “Our hope would be to get a new deal together in 2009 or 2010, and then move full steam ahead. We see great potential in the long-term viability of the city of Austin.”

Museum Tower calls for 421,000 square feet of office space and 13,500 square feet worth of shops. It would be downtown Austin’s first LEED-certified office building. Hines will have to pre-lease at least half of the tower’s commercial space before it can seek financing for the project.

“Obviously AMOA is not immune to the country’s economic issues that have delayed important projects around Austin and elsewhere,” says Tom Jackson, the museum’s senior director of development. “Hines has been an excellent partner, and AMOA looks forward to building a new home for AMOA downtown when economic conditions become more favorable.”

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