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Austin Business Journal: Take a hard-hat tour of The Independent, Austin's tallest tower, from top to bottom
June 06, 2018
by Marissa Luck
With condo owners expected to move in later this year, construction on the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi River is in the homestretch and developer Aspen Heights says more than 80 percent of condo units are under contract.
Even before its completion, The Independent has placed its mark on the Austin skyline with its unique Jenga-like design rising 685 feet above downtown. Contractors on The Independent reached a key milestone on the $300 million project with a topping out ceremony in May. Now crews are installing massive steel beams on the 58-story roof to form the building’s top.
The crown of the building will be a box of glimmering steel mesh that will hang over a 50,000-gallon water tank at the top that prevents the building from swaying in the wind. The same mesh, imported from a specialized manufacturer in China, will cover up the 677-space parking garage a few hundred feet below.
There’s only a short window of time when people will actually be able to walk around the top level of the tallest building in Austin, said Ryan Fetgatter, project developer with Aspen Heights. That’s because once the mesh is hung in the next few weeks the only people who will have to work that high up are window washers. Austin Business Journal got an exclusive look from the 58th floor and even a peek into the ground-floor lobby coming along.
Fetgatter said after the crown, the major construction tasks will be to finish out the building’s luxury interiors, which include 363 units and 491,000 square feet of sellable space.
One-bedroom condos are sold out, said Kevin Burns, CEO and broker of Urbanspace LLP, the sales team for the tower. There are still one-bedroom units with a study room attached, as well as a range of two- to three-bedroom condos. Available units start in the mid-$600,000s, although overall in the project prices range from $400,000s to $3.5 million.
“I sleep like a baby at night knowing the project we have curated for the last five years has been received so well by this market,” Fetgatter said. “It's a testament to this team and the strong design and the height of the building. People want to be a part of something that's special, unique and groundbreaking (that) is really pushing Austin forward I hope.”
Fetgatter said the plan is to start delivering units to residents by the end of this year. Condo owners will move in phases from the lower levels up while construction completes on the upper levels. It will likely take until mid-2019 to complete and close the remaining units, he added.
There is 13,500 square feet of ground-floor-retail space that could potentially fit a restaurant, Fetgatter said. Endeavor Real Estate Group is handling the retail leasing.
This is Aspen Heights' first foray into condominium development. The Austin-based developer is primarily known for student housing and apartments, but Fetgatter said the company didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be involved in the landmark tower.
Aspen Heights is the lead developer for the project, which was originally launched by Constructive Ventures through a master development agreement with the city of Austin. CIM Group is the primary investor; Balfour Beatty Construction is the general contractor; Rhode Partners is the architect; and the engineers include Urban Design Group (civil), Garza Bury (MEP) and DCI & Lam Consulting Engineers (structural).
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