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East 11th Street developer gets extension on completing mix-use project.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves

Developer Michael Casias has asked the Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA) for a one-month extension on the completion of his project in the 1200 block of East 11th Street (Block 19). Casias is clearly well on the way to finishing the project, a mixed-use three- and four-story structure with both commercial and residential space.


Block 19, as outlined on the Austin Revitalization Authority’s website, was intended to be a partnership between ARA and a local private developer.


What Casias has built on Block 19 is called East Village Austin. It is a striking structure, designed by Bercy Chen Studio, with colored panels, attractive views and higher-end amenities. Tenants on the ground floor of East Village will include Mr. Yogato, Eclectic Images Photography, Cuban Dog Gallery, a hair salon, a digital recording studio, a local political consultant and a local attorney, among others.


“We expect this corner to be a hub for some of the late-night Democratic activity,” Casias told the commissioners during his presentation.


From the outside, driving past the block, East Village looks all but complete. Casias was at the Urban Renewal Board last month, however, to ask for an extension on his completion date, to the end of November. City inspections, in particular, had delayed the certificate of occupancy on the building, which had an 18-month time frame from breaking ground on the site to completion of the project.


Such a delay requires an amendment to the developer’s agreement. The agreement noted the completion date would be Oct. 30. The commercial space on the site will be completed in that time frame, Casias said, but the residential space would require an additional 30 to 45 days.


Commissioner Kevin Cole questioned Casias carefully about his delay. In a PowerPoint presentation to the board, Casias outlined the progress on the site, as well as some of the delays, which he said included conflicting requirements from city inspectors regarding fire sprinklers on outside decks.


The city’s mixed-use code sometimes is in conflict with building code regulations. When you’re not doing cookie cutter developer, things get a bit more difficult when dealing with the city, Casias said. For instance, one inspector insisted on fire sprinklers on outside decks; the next asked why fire sprinklers were necessary, especially since East Village had metal decks and metal exteriors.


The delays mean the sidewalk still needs to be laid at the project, Casias said. It also means additional costs per unit. Much of the interior of the residential units has been completed, from butcher top counters and stainless steel sinks to wood floors and upgraded bathrooms.


“We are well on our way to completion,” Casias said of the project, his second in the neighborhood, behind one across the street on East 11th Street. He added sales have been brisk. “Given that this is the end of summer and not being one of the greatest markets, we are doing much better than most housing sales on the East Side and throughout Austin. I don’t think we will have any trouble selling the remaining units.”


The Urban Renewal Board had no problem voting to extend the developer’s agreement by a month. This project will mean one more piece of East 11th Street will fall into place.

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