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Independent’s day

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

More than 100 people, including Mayor Steve Adler, turned out on a chilly Monday afternoon to take part in the ceremonial dirt-turning for the new downtown residential tower known officially as the Independent but colloquially as the Jenga Tower. The 58-story building will rise in singular fashion over Shoal Creek at West Third Street and West Avenue, and upon completion it will hold the distinction of being the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi. Before taking part in the groundbreaking, Adler was effusive in praise for the private development and what it means for the city at large. “Great cities do big things,” the mayor declared. “What makes this a big project here in the city of Austin is the fact that … this project is going to contribute $18 million into our affordable housing trust fund.” While the Independent won’t feature any units on-site that fit into the city’s definition of “affordable,” the mayor said it helps projects such as the recently approved Pilot Knob project, which will feature 1,000 affordable units in the far southeast part of town. When asked what the city could do to ensure that downtown doesn’t become an enclave for the wealthy while the less affluent are pushed to the fringes, Adler told the Austin Monitor, “There are projects that we are talking about doing downtown that are going to contain affordable housing on-site. And those projects are wonderful, too. This particular project is contributing a massive amount in lieu of the physical location of the properties, but we need both in this city because it’s our resources that give us the power to get things done, but it’s the diversity that gives us the fabric.”

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