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Austin Business Journal

Condo Explosion: The Independent unveils latest renderings

May 13, 2015

   Anna Headshot         theindependentskylinelookingeast-web-750xx698-394-101-0

Anna Hardeman

Owner/Broker, The Boutique Real Estate

Residential condo development is booming after years of stagnation. Downtown Austin has several high-rise condo projects in the development pipeline, including Seaholm Residences, Fifth & West and The Independent.

This week the developer of The Independent released additional renderings and announced that a sales center is opening to the public off West Avenue and Fifth Street. Urbanspace, a real estate brokerage with offices at that location, has been hired as the exclusive listing broker and operator of “The Independent Presentation Center.”

Click on the “related slideshow” link next to the photo to see the latest renderings of the project, which includes a doggie lounge and kid’s playroom. Rhode: Partners is the project architect, by the way.

The tower, with its Jenga-styled cantilevered, off-kilter design has generated a lot of buzz. The developers now want to generate interest – particularly from pet lovers.

“We anticipate many of our future residents will be dog people, and we want to make it as convenient as possible for them to accommodate their pets,” said Perry Lorenz, principal with Constructive Ventures, which is developing The Independent in partnership with Aspen Heights, another Austin company that has made its mark thus far in student housing.

The Independent’s multipurpose pet facility will be located on the ninth floor amenity deck.

Lorenz hopes to compete effectively by providing a variety of condo sizes and prices beginning in the mid-$300,000s. That compares with Fifth & West where prices will start around $500,000. The Seaholm Residences, which begin delivering this summer, had some units priced below $300,000 but that project is sold out.

At this point the developers have yet to announce their financial partners for the project.

Anna Hardeman, the owner and broker of The Boutique Real Estate and an expert in downtown living, said she expects demand to remain robust for both high rise condo and apartment living — despite the high price tags either to buy or lease. Hardeman also isn’t worried about too many projects flooding the market, though uniqueness will play a role in separating the wheat from the chaff.

“If the building has a strong identity and a good story to tell, well-laid-out floor plans with minimal wasted space, great views, useful amenities and pre-sale pricing that leaves room for a tidy profit when it’s time to sell, then you will have their attention,” Hardeman said.

Don’t be surprised, she said, if existing condo dwellers downtown sell their older model for a new one. There may be a cash bonus in doing that.

For example, owners at The Austonian, one of Austin’s premium addresses, can expect to extract more than $800 per square foot, which is pricey even in expensive markets. Locally, newer projects are priced closer to $650 per square foot, Hardeman said.

Under those circumstances, she said, “It is a tempting proposition to cash out of the equity in their current condo and move into the newest, latest and greatest option.”

For those who need financing, Tony Trungale of First Choice Loan Services Inc. has been designated a “preferred lender” for many of the new downtown condo projects. Read more from Trungale about what that all means in the May 15 weekly print edition of Austin Business Journal.