Tambaleo To Be Evicted by New High Rise “Affordable” Condos?

Vancouver high rise designed by architect for Spring development
The Condo-mization of Austin continues apace with news that the developers behind the Nokonah (9th and Lamar) and Pedernales Lofts developments plan to erect a 36-story complex called Spring where Tambaleo and Gallery Lombardi now stand (formerly the home of the Electric Lounge). Robert Barnstone, Perry Lorenz and Larry Warshaw (along with property owner Diana Zuniga) hope to build an affordable alternative for downtown urban living containing 220 units averaging somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000.

“For the first time, living in downtown Austin will be a real option for teachers, firefighters, young professionals, and middle-income families

10 Comments so far

  1. M1EK (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 12:25 pm


    1. They’re a TENANT. They KNEW they didn’t own their land.

    2. ALL NEW DOWNTOWN HOUSING WILL BE EXPENSIVE. This isn’t rocket science.

    3. The only thing worse for affordable housing than building all these expensive downtown homes is NOT building all these expensive downtown homes. My condo (which I rent out, and which IS affordable) in Clarksville gets cheaper (or at least gets more expensive less quickly) when more SUPPLY is added to the MARKET to satisfy the DEMAND for center-city living.

  2. omit (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 1:11 pm

    The tenants have 2 1/2 years remaining on their lease, and the way they learned about development happening on their land before that was by reading it in the newspaper. That to me, seems a little unfair. Lorenz saying that teachers will be able to afford condos that are to be priced anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000 also seems like a specious claim. And let’s see what your condo is renting for in five years. Barring a recession or a pop in the bubble, I doubt that it will be cheaper.

  3. M1EK (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

    As I said, the only thing which is worse for affordable housing than building a bunch of units downtown is NOT building a bunch of units downtown. Supply and demand is something a fourth-grader can typically understand.

    My condo DID go down in price the last couple of years, as a matter of fact. Hard to say how much of that was due to general economic conditions vs. a vast increase in supply in (apartments very close to or in downtown), but I do know that there were some people in my complex who might have otherwise gone to this Spring building had it been around back then. (Hence, freeing up room for other people to move into MY complex).

    My condo cost $96,000 in 1997, by the way. There are still plenty of sub-150K condominiums in the area, and the construction of high-end stuff downtown DOES help relieve pressure on this midrange stock from people who know they want to live downtown and previously had to ‘settle’ for stuff like my unit.

  4. wae (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 7:41 pm

    If I may read in between TimO’s lines, I think this is emblematic of a continuing / growing issue in Austin; the march of popularity is bulldozing the elements that made Austin such. Not that Tambaleo is a true-blue Austin landmark (although I still hear the howl of Electric ghosts when I’m there), but it’s sad to see eclectic elements of the Austin social scene buried for so much gentrified homogeneity. This scenario smacks of the aborted Waterloo Brewing Co. loft project, which managed to sink the one enjoyable brewpub in town and replace it with Ass & Hound.

    And I can’t quite bring myself to believe M1EK’s assertion that such buildings are meeting pent up demand, as though the curves shift neatly into place like a Milton Friedman wet dream. Sure, doing nothing means that 800 sq.ft. bungalos start selling for $1.2M someday, but that doesn’t mean that 400 foot professional pillboxes are the optimum solution, either. The only thing worse for affordable housing than NOT building expensive housing is to tear down existing affordable housing and build luxury bullshit on it. That’s not exactly the downtown scenario, but it is pretty much the norm for Travis Hts, Zilker, etc.

    It all seems to be part of this quasi-fatalistic mantra that Austin Will Be Ginormous in 20 Years. And so the politicos and the developers rub elbows to accommodate this inevitability, although their actions are fueling the growth hype as much as reflecting it.

    And while most 4th graders might get supply and demand, most fail to grasp the consequences of their blind endorsement. Meeting demand for expensive housing is not the same thing as meeting area demand for housing in general, and it’s quite again different than meeting the needs of existing (displaced) residents vs. meeting the needs of future ones. Newcomers might add more “value” to the tax rolls, but I know who I’d rather hang out with at Ego’s.

    I know that growth is happening. I know change is inevitable. Sometimes I even like it, like when it means a Texadelphia shows up within 5 minutes of work. But the over-euphoria for knocking everything down and revamping Austin’s design (and hence, image) will ultimately be shown to be a bad idea when everyone starts wondering what it was that made this town so cool in the first place.

  5. M1EK (unregistered) on August 7th, 2005 @ 3:37 pm

    “Meeting demand for expensive housing is not the same thing as meeting area demand for housing in general”

    Actually, it IS the same thing, because some of the people who would have taken the expensive housing were settling for the less-expensive housing before, as I pointed out with the example of my condominium.

    Sentiment is no substitute for understanding supply and demand.

    And the supposed phenomenon of affordable housing is being torn down and replaced with expensive housing is NOT the rule, it’s the exception. MOST of the expensive housing going up around here is going up on land which had parking lots or one-story buildings on it before. And again, those added units relieve some of the pressure on the existing midrange housing stock in Old West Austin (talking multi-family here; not bungalows; I’m sorry hippies, but bungalows are never again going to be affordable in central Austin, no matter which of our development platforms you adopt).

  6. Raf (unregistered) on August 16th, 2005 @ 11:08 pm

    Doesn’t anyone remember that the Envision Central Texas poll (flame away at the poll) was overwhelmingly in favor of higher density? This will also mean very painful sacrifices in the downtown area. But we can always choose to replace that loss with something that fits in the new environment we are building. Music and entertainment venues need to be incorporated into large developments like this or those going up in the area. I really don’t see that as incompatible, is everyone really that unimaginative?

  7. omit (unregistered) on August 16th, 2005 @ 11:15 pm

    Raf, my only worry is that cultural institutions will be eradicated by the high rents following these condominium developments, only to be replaced by more upscale establishments/dance clubs/high price restaurants, etc. I worry about the future of the Red River scene. I suppose a lot of those bars may move to cheaper locales. However, as we’ve seen with the Church of the Friendly Ghost, other neighborhoods are not very accepting of the noise. Will those in the condos accept it downtown? I’m not trying to be unimaginative. We will receive both sprawl and downtown infill, I’m afraid.

  8. M1EK (unregistered) on August 17th, 2005 @ 8:49 pm


    The mandate that pretty much all of these new development include street-level pedestrian uses will ensure that rents won’t be too high (in the long run; in the short run the landlords are being foolish by letting space go empty as far as I can tell).

  9. Steve (unregistered) on September 5th, 2005 @ 2:29 am

    Its not like those local type places cant relocate or rebuild, and since they were tenents, its not like they didnt see this coming.
    A new scraper in austin and infill being a nice change from sprawl is something thats cool, but i can understand how you guys are getting nervous how local places are going down for high wealth condos.I live in College Station and even though everyone here calls you guys hippies, in reality we like coming to austin to do stuff, and its that ambience that draws us, not the big tall buildings…

  10. JJ (unregistered) on September 19th, 2005 @ 2:16 pm

    Okay for those people who are trying to fight progressive development in downtown. Please get a life. I don’t understand what these people are talking about by loosing their views? What view would they be talking about the Spring will be built in an area that will not be blocking anything of particular importance. They can’t see the river from that neighborhood and it certanly wont block views of the capital? I think these people just don’t have anything better to do then to cause problems for the city as a whole. Hello people, several neighborhood associations as well as imput from thousands of citizens in the Austin area show and overwhelming support for development such as the Spring. People who live on border neighborhoods next to a downtown area should think about the fact that sooner or later there will be high density development near by. They shouldn’t have moved there if they don’t like the prospect. People who live in the West Austin neighborhood my comment to you is to get over it.

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