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The Buzz - 2010

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Press Excerpts

Re-energizing Seaholm
Downtown corner to be remade into vibrant district
Austin American-Statesman
by Shonda Novak
December 26, 2010

Over the next decade, the southwest corner of downtown will undergo dramatic change, as a 13-acre area that once was largely city-owned land is reshaped into a dynamic urban neighborhood with residences, shops, restaurants, and entertainment and cultural attractions.

The land is within the larger Seaholm District, bounded by Lamar Boulevard, San Antonio and West Fifth streets and Lady Bird Lake that is named after the landmark former power plant. The 13 acres includes the largest assemblage of city-owned land downtown that remains for potential redevelopment.

Five major projects, including redevelopment of the former Seaholm Power Plant and Green Water Treatment Plant sites, along with recent private projects nearby, will represent about $2 billion in new investment for the district, said Fred Evins, the city's project manager for the Green and Seaholm redevelopment.

... John Rosato, a principal with Southwest Strategies Group, lead developer on Seaholm, said the projects will be "transformational for downtown."


Seaholm Power Plant’s blank canvas spurs imagination in event planners
Austin Business Journal
by Sandra Zaragoza
Friday, July 16, 2010

It’s supposed to be a dormant, quiet, old electric plant waiting to be redeveloped in the coming years, but the Seaholm Power Plant has unexpectedly become an in-demand setting for exclusive parties, concerts and black-tie fundraisers.

Despite being stripped of the typical niceties found in hotels or traditional event venues — it doesn’t have electricity, running water or bathrooms — Seaholm has attracted some impressive bookings.

The historic nature of the building has lured MTV, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Rare magazine. Paramount Pictures leased the iconic building for about six weeks this spring to film the remake of “True Grit.”

... Adding to the building’s novelty is that the opportunity to see Seaholm in its raw condition may end this year. According to Southwest Strategies Group, the company chosen by the city to redevelop Seaholm and its surrounding land, the long-awaited project may be turning dirt as early as next year.

Under the agreement with the city, the power plant will stay intact, but Southwest Strategies will turn it into a retail, restaurant and event center. Plans also call for a hotel and residential component, a two-story retail and office building, and an outdoor plaza.

John Rosato of Southwest Strategies said the city is meeting its obligations for environmental cleanup at the site. With the progress the city is making, Rosato believes his company could begin developing the site in 2011.

Rosato said Southwest Strategiess plans to maintain Seaholm's integrity while giving it modern conveniences that would enable it to accommodate events.

Junior League buys land for future expansion

Site in Northwest Austin also expected to host other nonprofits' events, help preserve greenbelt
Austin American-Statesman
by Brian Gaar
May 27, 2010

About three years ago, a space and needs assessment showed that the group needed about twice as much space as it has now, Haralson said. At that point, the Junior League had grown to more than 2,000 members, and its current facility couldn't hold general meetings, she said. With parking needs, the group found itself landlocked, she said.

... Southwest Strategies broker Mike Wiley assisted the league in its land search.

Boutique hotel may sprout downtown
Section of Congress Avenue would get its first new lodging option since 1966
Austin American-Statesman
by Shonda Novak
May 21, 2010

John Rosato represented the family that has owned the building since 1893.

..."This building is one of a handful of original structures that remain along Congress Avenue that are more than 100 years old," Rosato said. "It is absolutely ideal for a boutique hotel," he said, citing its "charming architecture" and location.

'Party of the Decade' planned for September Fete
Section of Congress Avenue would get its first new lodging option since 1966
Austin American-Statesman
by Michael Barnes
May 5, 2010

Ballet Austin event chairwoman Andrea McWilliams, co-founder of McWilliams & Associates lobbying firm, is planning the 'party of the decade' for Sept. 10.

Dubbed 'Fete to the Power of 10,' the gala will include pricey cocktails, dinner and performances staged by Stephen Mills at the Butler Dance Education Center (tables go for $10,000; individual tickets for $1,000). Tickets for the performance -celebrating Mills - 10 years as artistic director - cost $250.

The party will migrate to the Seaholm Power Plant for an evening-long event (tickets: $95-$125).

Such a deal: MTV gets Seaholm for $500 a day during SXSW
Austin American-Statesman
by Michael Corcoran
February 24, 2010

With downtown party space at a premium during South by Southwest, MTV has managed to work out an agreement with the City of Austin to rent the former Seaholm Power Plant for $500 a day over six days. You read that right: no zeroes are missing.

“Wow,” publicist Elaine Garza said, incredulously, at the bargain rate. “Some people are paying $10,000 to rent a club during the day. Seaholm is the hot space. Everybody’s been trying to get it.”

Gloria Aguilera of the City’s Real Estate Services Division said MTV reserved Seaholm, which has 117,000 square feet of space, after doing a few tapings at last year’s SXSW. Aguilera said the price is only $500 a day because there is no electricity or bathrooms in the warehouse-like shell.

Also, the low rental fee adhere’s to city ordinance #20080306-038, an economic growth initiative signed by then-mayor Will Wynn at SXSW 2008, which encourages filming of movies and television programs in Austin.

Several party planners were fighting over Seaholm, Aguilera said, including Rare magazine, which had been contracted by SXSW to put on a couple events, and Perez Hilton, who wanted MTV out at 5 p.m. Saturday so he could host his now-annual SXSW-closing bash. But MTV had already secured the hot spot.

MTV to take over Seaholm during SXSW
Austin American-Statesman
by Michael Corcoran
February 23, 2010

The vacant Seaholm Power Plant, which is managed for temporary use by Austin’s Real Estate Services Division, will be occupied during South by Southwest by MTV, the city’s Gloria Aguilera said Monday. “They’ll be filming there all four days,” Aguilera said.

Spelman and Riley competing to cut carbon; plans for artwork at Seaholm
Austin American-Statesman
Urban Affairs
February 17, 2010

Seaholm wall to be public art TheSeaholm Power Plant, which sits on the north side of Lady Bird Lake, is prime real estate, but, its Art Deco lettering aside, not exactly the prettiest thing along the shoreline. On Feb. 25, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a small step toward spiffing up the area.

The city is already planning to redevelop Seaholm and the neighboring Thomas C. Green Water Treatment Plant as a mix of shops, condos and amenities. Part of that plan is shrinking an existing substation to make room for a new library and then turning a wall that will enclose the substation into a work of art.

Exactly what sort of art hasn't been decided. The city has budgeted $750,000 for the wall and would spend an additional $181,200 that is already budgeted for public art. The city's Art in Public Places program would commission the design, engineering and construction.