Dwell Downtown Austin Blog

City of Austin Green Standards Could Change

Posted in City of Austin by Bryan Cady on November 18, 2009

In response to developers’, city officials’ and commission appointees’ concerns that the city’s energy standards are confusing and that they slow development, Austin Energy is proposing a standardized green building rating system across development types.

Currently, different rating systems apply to commercial, residential and multifamily projects. The proposed changes, which are planned to go before the city manager for approval early next year, would implement the same criteria across all sectors that the city council has already adopted for master-planned communities, or planned-unit developments.

Austin Energy is also proposing a required pre-approval for buildings outside of city planning and commissions, along with a signed waiver by developers acknowledging agreed-upon requirements and their responsibility to communicate these to their architects and builders.

Source: Austin Business Journal

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Open Architecture East – Austin Architect Studio Tour

Posted in Architecture and Design by Bryan Cady on November 18, 2009

Architecture Studio Tours in East Austin

AIA Austin is hosting their first annual OPEN ARCHITECTURE event, an “open house” of Architects’ studios. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the architecture studios of East Austin, get a sneak peak into plans for future projects and developments direct from the Architects and experience the unique styles and personalities of each studio.

Self-guided Tour
Saturday, December 12, 2009
1-5 PM
$5 Wristband

All proceeds benefit UpLift Austin, offering an innovative environmental education program for at-risk youth.

Visit AIA Austin website for more information

Downtown Austin W Condos – Financing in Place

Posted in Condos, Downtown Austin Condos by Bryan Cady on November 6, 2009

W Hotel Residences and Condos - Downtown Austin

The Dallas office of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP (HFF) has arranged a $120 million recapitalization for the W Hotel & Residences, a mixed-use project under construction in downtown Austin’s 2nd Street District.

Working on behalf of Stratus Properties Inc. and the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, HFF placed a new five-year construction loan originated by CLG Hedge Fund LLC, a hedge fund affiliated with Beal Bank Nevada. This loan is replacing an original $165 million construction financing through Corus Bank that HFF secured on behalf of the borrowers in 2008.

As part of the recapitalization, Stratus and Canyon-Johnson are also contributing $45 million to the project.

Due for completion in December 2010, the W Hotel and Residences will have 252 guest rooms and suites, about 159 residential units and approximately 54,000 sf of retail and office space. There will also be an entertainment venue operated by Live Nation and a new studio for KLRU-TV’s Austin City Limits show.

Source: Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP

Homebuyer Tax Credit Changes – Comparison Chart

Posted in Real Estate Finance by Bryan Cady on November 6, 2009

Congress has extended and expanded the homebuyer tax credit. The modifications in the column labeled “December 1 – April 30, 2010” become effective when President Obama signs the bill. All changes made to the current credit become effective on that date, as well.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Changes – Comparison Chart

Bel Air Lofts near Downtown Austin – Close Out Specials

Posted in Austin Steals and Deals, Condos, South Austin Condos by Bryan Cady on November 5, 2009

Bel Air Condos - Austin, Texas near Downtown

Recently The Bel Air Condominiums in central Austin, Texas near downtown, were auctioned; however, there were a few units that were held back and/or came back to market because of individuals not being able to obtain financing. There are currently 3 units available at essentially auction prices. For example, you can get a 2-bedroom with a rooftop terrace for $232,800. The original list price was $349,900…this amounts to a $117,100 discount!

The Bel Air Condos are FHA approved.

Homebuyer tax credit extended for first-time home buyers

Posted in Real Estate Finance by Bryan Cady on November 5, 2009

After the Senate gave final approval last night without a dissenting vote, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to pass legislation containing an extension and expansion of the homebuyer tax credit, completing Congressional action and sending the tax credit to President Obama for his signature, possibly as early as tomorrow.

The $8,000 homebuyer tax credit for first-time buyers, due to expire in 25 days, will be extended through April 30 of next year and buyers will have an additional two months, until the end of June, to close. First-time buyers who are in the process of making a purchase will no longer need to worry about qualifying for the $8,000 credit if they close after the November 30 deadline. The new legislation increases the income limit for couples with income up to $225,000, a nearly $55,000 increase above the level in existing law.

For the first time, the new legislation makes buyers who already own a home eligible for a credit. A $6,500 maximum credit will be available to existing homeowners who have lived in their current residence for five of the prior eight years. The legislation limits eligibility for the existing homeowner credit to homes worth $800,000 or less.

The legislation takes effect December 1 and is not retroactive. Both credits are available only for primary residences, not second homes or investment properties.

In the House debate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the floor to say the homebuyer tax credit was helping a new generation of Americans live out their dream of homeownership and financial independence. Debate on the homebuyer credit was overwhelmingly positive and the legislation passed 403 to 12.

However, several leading economists have voiced concern about the $16.7 billion cost of the credit and the wisdom of spending up to $400,000 per homebuyer to stimulate real estate sales and White House support for extending the credit has been lukewarm at best. However, it is virtually certain that the President will sign the legislative package, which contains an expansion of unemployment benefits as well as the tax changes.

In the Senate, the homebuyer tax credit was amended to a bill expanding unemployment benefits by 20 weeks for those who have exhausted their benefit. The latest unemployment numbers are due out tomorrow and Congressional leaders are rushing the unemployment bill to the White House so that the President can show compassion by signing on the same day more job losses are announced.

The legislation included provisions added to address complaints of fraud. The Internal Revenue Service is given greater authority to oversee the process to root out fraud, and provisions are added in response to past abuses of false sales or underage buyers. An investigation by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration found that more than 580 children, some as young as four years old, had received $627,000 in first-time homebuyer credits. The IRS has identified 167 suspected criminal schemes and opened nearly 107,000 examinations of potential civil violations of the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

The legislation also contains a provision supported by the National Association of Home Builders which will help larger companies strapped for cash with net operating losses (NOL). Ordinarily these companies can carry back these losses for only two years to qualify for a tax refund. The provision would make this process extend the carry-back to five years for either 2008 or 2009. The tax break will now apply to losses in either 2008 or 2009, and the income cap will come off.

Source: RISMEDIA, November 6, 2009

Downtown Austin Plan – Town Hall Meeting Notes

Posted in City of Austin by Bryan Cady on November 4, 2009

Notes from the October 10, 2009 Town Hall Meeting are now available at http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/downtown/downtownaustinplan.htm.

You will also find a notice of the upcoming November 14, 2009 Town Hall Meeting on Downtown Austin Plan Parks and Open Space.

Imagine Austin: Invitation to the Austin Comprehensive Plan Forums

Posted in City of Austin by Bryan Cady on November 4, 2009

The City of Austin has begun its comprehensive planning process called “Imagine Austin”. This is a vital opportunity to get involved and help shape the future direction of the city. The comprehensive plan lays out the vision for the community and answers critical questions such as “where are we going” and “how do we get there”. If you’re concerned about transportation, affordable housing, land development, the environment, the economy, etc., you will definitely want to be involved.

Below are details regarding community forums taking place the week of November 9th where you can weigh in with your thoughts about Austin’s future. Visit http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/compplan/ to sign up to get notices directly from the City of Austin or for contact information for City of Austin staff members.