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Work starts on Austin tower destined to be tallest in Texas at 74 stories high

Shonda Novak
Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN — Construction is underway on a 74-story tower in downtown Austin that, once completed, will become the tallest building not only in Austin but in all of Texas, its developers say.

Development partners Lincoln Property Company and Kairoi Residential said they have broken ground on the mixed-use tower, planned to be 1,022 feet tall. The tower joins downtown Austin's ongoing high-rise building boom, which is reshaping the city's skyline.

For perspective, at just over 1,774 feet, One World Trade Center in New York is the tallest building in the nation followed by Central Park Tower in New York standing at 1,550 feet. Nearby, and much lower on the list of tallest buildings in the U.S. ranked by World Atlas, stands the Bank of America Tower at 1,200 feet.

Developers on Tuesday revealed other new details about the Austin project, including its name, its scheduled opening date and a new equity partner in it.

The developers named the tower Waterline. It will be builton Red River Street on 3.3 acres in downtown's Rainey Street area. The high-rise, which will overlook Lady Bird Lake, is planned to open in late 2026.

Soaring to 1,022 feet, Waterline will become the tallest tower in Texas when it opens in 2026. The The mixed-use high-rise in downtown Austin will have hotel rooms, office space and apartment units.

It's height will eclipse what is currently the tallest building in the Lone Star State, the 75-story JPMorgan Chase Tower (formerly Texas Commerce Tower) that soars 1,002 feet into the air in downtown Houston.

The current tallest tower in Austin is the Independent, a 58-story residential skyscraper nicknamed the Jenga Tower for its offset design. The Independent is about 690 feet tall.

One of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board — commonly known as PSP Investments — is the main equity partner in the new Waterline tower, Lincoln and Kairo said.

An artists rendering shows one of two planned pedestrian bridges over Waller Creek. The bridges are part of the Waterline project.
Waterline will be the tallest tower in Austin, and in all of Texas, when it opens in four years.

“Waterline marks a new milestone for downtown not only because of its height but also because of the positive impact this project will have on improving connectivity, enhancing public amenities, and attracting more people to this beautiful area of downtown,” Seth Johnston, Lincoln's senior vice president in Austin, said in the release.

As previously announced, Lincoln and Kairoi's project will have 352 apartments, 700,000 square feet of office space and a 251-room 1 Hotel Austin. The 1 Hotel will be the first in Texas from global hospitality company SH Hotel Resorts for its luxury 1 Hotel brand, which emphasizes sustainability features.

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Sculptural columns will lift the Waterline tower’s base 30 feet above the street, creating a two-story canopy that will feature restaurant, retail and public spaces.

Michael Lynd Jr., CEO of Kairoi Residential, said Waterline will be "Austin's next iconic project." The tower is being designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, an architectural firm whose portfolio includes the 55 Hudson Yards and One Vanderbilt towers in New York.

As part of Waterline, two pedestrian bridges will be added over Waller Creek from the west, along with three public pedestrian and bike access points to the Waterloo Greenway from the east. The developers said they will contribute $1 million to fund improvements to the Waterloo Greenway, a 1.5-mile trail that connects the University of Texas at Austin's campus to Lady Bird Lake.

Waterline's ground floor will have 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space overlooking Waller Creek and the Waterloo Greenway. The hotel will occupy the next 13 floors, with a ballroom and meeting spaces on the 14th floor and a rooftop pool with food and beverage service on the 16th floor.

The office space will occupy 27 floors, and the residences will be on the upper 33 floors. The 41st floor will have two pools, along with a lounge, bar, kitchen, and co-working space.

The developers said May of 2025 is the targeted date for improvements to begin for office tenants' spaces. The schedule calls for the tower to "top out," or reach its highest level of construction, in August of 2025. The timeline lists the fall of 2026 for the hotel and apartment units to open.

Lincoln and Kairoi have not released the project's anticipated cost. A filing last year with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation listed the estimated cost at $520 million.

Contributing: Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY

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