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The Buzz - 2012

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Press Excerpts

Seaholm Power Plant: Urban Icon to Cultural Nexus
Urban Design & Preservation
By Earl Broussard, FASLA, AICP, LEED AP
Winter 2012

For more than half a century the Seaholm Power Plant has been an unmistakable part of downtown Austin's urban fabric — an iconic structure just beyond the north shore of Lady Bird Lake seen by millions of passersby annually.

Though it stopped generating power in 1996, the graceful Art Deco structure remains a significant part of Austin's architectural heritage, and an ongoing transformation is establishing Seaholm as the city's new cultural hub.

... When completed, the 7.8-acre site will include a vibrant mix of outdoor gathering and event spaces, more than 100,000 square feet of office space, nearly 300 contemporary apartments, local retail shops and restaurants, and Austin's first Trader Joe's, which will serve as the development's neighborhood grocery store.

Providing for convenient public accessibility and a variety of multifaceted gathering spaces — while retaining the site's rich and beloved historical character — were key objectives for the transformation. Accordingly, the design creates a large, sloped lawn south of the main generator building, adjacent to Cesar Chavez Street, which preserves views to the historic façade and creates a multipurpose, amphitheatre-like event space ideally suited for concerts, festivals and farmers markets. The space will be capable of hosting 1,500 to 2,000 patrons and will include locations for two large event tents.

The design of this space pays homage to the power plant's historic character and organizes walks and pedestrian areas in alignment with the axes of the existing infrastructure. Additionally, the design of the space provides a connection to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and creates an additional pedestrian lane along Cesar Chavez. Also of note, two streets running north and south, West Street and Walter Seaholm Drive, will be extended from Cesar Chavez Street to Third Street, and the design accommodates a future commuter rail planned along the site's western edge.

In addition, a large interior plaza will provide a variety of gathering areas for patrons, employees and residents of the development, with distinct areas affording intimate space for informal meetings. These areas, or zones, will be situated under the existing power plant framework, with the plant's machinery offering shade and a nod to the site's former industrial use. Three levels of underground parking beneath the plaza will accommodate parking in a convenient and efficient manner.

Next to the power plant's towering stacks, a separate area known as the grove will include a wood deck and informal seating situated under a bosque of shade trees, and a lawn in the plaza will provide additional space for events of approximately 350 to 500 people. A mews through the plaza will facilitate pedestrian movement and allow short-term parking for the retail and office uses. Like the front yard, the plaza design pays homage to the plant's industrial character, including details such as a fountain with misters that recall the steam that powered the plant's generators as well as shade structures reflecting the plant's industrial aesthetic. Café tables and chairs will be provided at several locations as outdoor seating for café and restaurant patrons.

At the project's western entrance, a grand staircase and entry plaza along Seaholm Drive will serve as a ceremonial entry, and pedestrian-oriented streetscapes with seating opportunities, shade and various site furnishings will provide a pleasurable walking experience along West Street, Third Street and Seaholm Drive. A multipurpose pool and terrace area will be provided above the parking structure for use by the residential tower's tenants. This space will include pool decking and gathering spaces, site furnishings, shade structures, seating, and a welcoming landscape.

In addition to being preserved, the plant's five smoke stacks will be complemented with lighting, seating and foliage, and parts of the plant's mechanical substructure that surrounded the boilers will be kept and exposed, providing a dynamic context for the plaza with opportunities for public art and shade structures. The emphasis on preservation and reuse also resulted in repurposing the existing underground intake pipes that supplied water from the adjacent Lady Bird Lake to the plant for cooling. The new design employs that infrastructure for rainwaterharvesting purposes with a capacity exceeding 300,000 gallons. Additional sustainable approaches include recycling plant materials to build trellises and other project elements, along with a landscape comprised of native and adaptive plants.

The overall transformation of the historic Seaholm Power Plant breathes new life into an iconic piece of downtown Austin's built environment by preserving the extraordinary Art Deco structure and its associated components. More exciting, however, is the potential for the site to be a true urban hub of activity, with vibrant live, work and play components that help meet the needs of Austin's rapidly growing population — in an urban design that looks boldly to the future without compromising the site's rich history and character.


Stream Realty joins Seaholm leasing team
Austin Business Journal
By Jan Buchholz
Dec 3, 2012

The company that is redeveloping the Seaholm Power Plant into a mixed-use project has tapped Stream Realty Partners to handle retail and office leasing.

Stream Realty brokers Matt Frizzell, Brad Philp, Kevin Granger, Bryan Dabbs and Edvin Beasely will join forces with John Rosato and Danny Roth. Rosato and Roth are executives with Southwest Strategies Group, the managing partner of Seaholm Power LLC.

The Stream Realty team was selected in part because of its successful leasing experience at Penn Field, a mixed-use project in South Austin. That development was repurposed from a military facility.

... With large blocks of available office space becoming the rarity in downtown Austin, the repurposed space at Seaholm may be attractive to the growing numbers of technology and media companies landing in the city. The power plant structure alone could provide about 150,000-square-feet of contiguous space for a tenant.

Formal groundbreaking on the Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2013.


Historic Fort Worth offers popular lecture series
Fort Worth BusinessPress
By Michael H. Price
September 14, 2012

... The organization will present its 10th installment of the Samuel Benton Cantey III Lecture & Preservation Awards Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 1300 Gendy St., in the Cultural District.

The speaker will be John C. Rosato, managing partner of the historic Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment project in downtown Austin.

As a principal of Southwest Strategies Group Inc., Rosato has provided brokerage and development services to Austin for 30 years. He served as general partner and planning consultant for the 230,000-square-foot Penn Field, which was named the Best Mixed-Use Development of 2004 by the Austin Business Journal. Rosato is president of the Heritage Society of Austin and co-chairman of Austin’s Landmark Commission.

Council OKs offices in Seaholm building
Austin Business Journal
By Vicky Garza
June 7, 2012

Austin City Council members will allow the main Seaholm Power Plant building to be used as office space.

The revision to the original master development agreement – which allowed only retail uses – was requested by developer Seaholm Power LLC.

The developer is in final negotiations with a potential tenant for the 115,000-square-foot space, said John Rosato with Southwest Strategies Group Inc., which is part of the Seaholm redevelopment partnership.

... The amendment still allows for retail and restaurant uses, and Rosato said they are working to allow public use of the building.

The City Council also approved several other changes to the 2008 agreement at its Thursday meeting.


Tovo: Could changing Seaholm parking save Green trees?
By Josh Rosenblatt
June 6, 2012

John Rosato, a partner with Southwest Strategies Group, the company redeveloping the decommissioned plant, said that though putting on events in the building would be a possibility, the proposed amendments are currently needed to move what has been an eight-year project into its final stages.

"The two amendments to the MDA are driven by the market, not by us," Rosato told Tovo. "And the amendments don't fundamentally change any of the economics of the MDA. At this point in time, we have a site plan that's close to being released, we've hired a construction company, documents are being completed, we've signed a lease with a major retailer — Trader Joe's — and these actions that we're asking for are essential for moving the project forward and to not losing the momentum and to not losing the tenants we have processed."

When Tovo asked about the possibility of delaying the Council vote on the amendment by a week and holding a briefing and a public hearing on the amendments on Thursday, Rosato expressed in the strongest terms that any delay could "seriously compromise the future of the site."

"We are at a point where we really are in final negotiations, and if we lose this tenant a lot of things will occur," Rosato said. 'I think people understand that the purpose of this is to save this building. ... The future is bright if we get it going, and we can get it going now."



Plans for Seaholm project's exterior focused on public spaces
Austin Business Journal
By Jan Buchholz
May 18-24, 2012

An expansive sloping lawn conducive to live performances and a large plaza will flank the former Seaholm Power Plant on its north and south, creating two public spaces that will host activities ranging from concerts to weddings to art shows, according to landscaping plans completed this month for the downtown redevelopment project.

The prominent smoke stacks of the defunct plant will be preserved and accented by seating, foliage and lighting. Portions of the power plant’s mechanical substructure that surrounded the boilers will be preserved and exposed, creating a dramatic backdrop for the plaza that may include public art and shade structures.

The landscaping plans, which were completed this month by Austin-based landscape architecture company TBG, Inc., brings out the developer's wish for public accessibility.

"I've really stressed to TBG that landscaping is what knits the project together. I want people to experience this as a unified development," said John Rosato, partner with Southwest Strategies Group, which is redeveloping the decommissioned power plant and the 7.8 acres beneath it.

... "The plaza is a large rooftop garden in a lot of respects," said Ott, whose company garnered accalim for its work at the state Capitol and Laguna Gloria, a restored 1916 villa on Lake Austin that is listed ont he National Registry of Historic Places.

... "It's a very comlex site with a need to pay homage to the past and to bring a new appeal to an iconic building," Ott said.

The landscaping gives a nod to sustainability with the use of native plants. Underground intake pipes that supplied water from Lady Bird Lake to the plant for cooling will be repurposed for rainwater harvesting with a capacity of more than 300,000 gallons. Materials will be recycled to build trellises and other design features.


The Austin Letter
Volume 34, Number 6
By Neal Spelce
May 4, 2012

"Sophisticated urban bohemians" – shoppers and diners who are "independent thinkers, global nomads and cultural trend-setters" – are the target market for the developers seeking to fill apartments and lease retail and restaurant space int he re-constituted iconic former Seaholm Power Plant development. This is what the developer told CultureMap Austin.

"The demographics are geared toward urban-oriented 25-to-50-year-olds with an appreciation for authentic culture," John Rosato, managing partner of developer Seaholm Power LLC, told CultureMap Austin. "We're looking for strong, local, regional or even distinct national tenants that will add to the unique ambience Seaholm inherently possesses."

And the lead pump-priming tenant has already been signed. California-based grocer Trader Joe's will be the biggest retail tenant. It competes with Whole Foods Market whose flagship store is just a few blocks away.

"Seaholm has a distinct sense of history, architecture and ambience," Rosato continued. "There's a unique vibe that made it an instant cultural hit with everyone from fine arts performers to hip-hop artists that clamored to hold events there. In our minds, that confirmed the need to gear our efforts toward tenants with a deep appreciation for timeless urban culture."


When you found out Trader Joes was coming to Austin
By John Egan
April 27, 2012


More than Trader Joes' in store: Seaholm development targets 'urban bohemians'
April 18, 2012

Hallelujah! Trader Joe’s is coming to Austin!

10.) I can stop feeling culturally inferior to my friends in NYC, Boston,  Chicago and LA.

More than Trader Joes' in store: Seaholm development targets 'urban bohemians'
By John Egan
April 18, 2012

Rosato said the Seaholm project is seeking retail and restaurant tenants that cater to “sophisticated urban bohemians” — shoppers and diners who are “independent thinkers, global nomads and cultural trend-setters.”

... “We’re looking for other strong, local, regional or even distinct national tenants that will add to the unique ambiance Seaholm inherently possesses,” Rosato tells CultureMap Austin. “The demographics are geared toward urban-oriented 25- to 50-year-olds with an appreciation for authentic culture.”

... “That said, Seaholm has a distinct sense of history, architecture and ambiance. There’s a unique vibe that made it an instant cultural hit with everyone from fine arts performers to hip-hop artists that clamored to hold events there. In our minds, that confirmed the need to gear our efforts toward tenants with a deep appreciation for timeless urban culture,” Rosato says.


Downtown Development Underway in Austin
April 19, 2012

It’s estimated that 10,000 people currently call downtown Austin home. There is another building boom underway with several major projects getting off the drawing board.

... Next door, work is about to begin on converting the old Seaholm Power Plant site into a residential and business high rise. Along with a pair of 50 story towers going up along Rainey St, in which 2,000 to 6,000 more residents could soon call downtown home.

... Thursday, the Austin Real Estate Council held a panel discussion about downtown development. The group heard the city core is still considered to be fertile ground for investors.

John Rosato is among the developers helping build places for all the new urban dwellers.

"There was a study done when Will Wynn was Mayor about there was capacity for 20,000 residential people living downtown,” said Rosato.

Rosato believes expanding rail opportunities will help keep downtown moving forward.

"Its not that it’s the only solution, its just one of the solutions," said Rosato.

While transportation remains an infrastructure challenge, upgrades to water and wastewater are expected meet the demand for the next 50 years.


Trader Joes' coming to downtown Austin next year
Austin American-Statesman
By Brian Gaar
April 18, 2012

California-based specialty grocer Trader Joe's is coming to Austin next year with a new store at the Seaholm development downtown, company officials said.

The Austin store's planned site is just blocks from some stiff competition — Whole Foods' flagship store and headquarters at Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard.

"We are thrilled to be coming to Austin and look forward to being part of this wonderful neighborhood," said Trader Joe's spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki. She declined to give a more specific opening date for the store.

The Austin Trader Joe's store will be part of the proposed mixed-use project at the former Seaholm Power Plant on a 7.8-acre site downtown. Plans for the project, which is scheduled to break ground in July, call for 298 apartments, 130,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space and an acre of outdoor event space.

"Of all the nationally known retailers to land in Austin over the past decade, it's safe to say Trader Joe's is right up there in terms of the degree of enthusiasm in which they're welcomed," said John Rosato, managing partner for Seaholm Power LLC, the company overseeing the redevelopment project.


trader joe's at seaholm


Trader Joe's to Open Austin Location in 2013
By Nathan Bernier, KUT News
April 18, 2012

Austinites woke up this morning to the news, first reported by the Statesman, that Trader Joe's plans to open a location at the soon-to-be-constructed Seaholm Development downtown.

The Monrovia, California-based specialty grocery retailer first revealed its Texas expansion almost a year ago, but announced stores in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, the Woodlands and Plano before saying it would open a store in the city that spawned Whole Foods. 

Here are some details on the planned Austin location:

Target opening date: Sometime in 2013

Address: 211 Seaholm Drive, Suite 100

Size: 11,500 square feet

Beer and wine? Yes

There's more details on Trader Joe's Austin expansion in their press release


Austin gets a Trader Joe's next year
Austin Business Journal - ABJ Morning Call
April 18, 2012

Trader Joe's Co, a natural and organic food grocery chain, plans to open its first store in downtown Austin next year in the Seaholm power plant redevelopment, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Speculation was circulating in January that the California-based grocer may open a store in Austin. The new 11,500-square-foot downtown store will be located at 211 Seaholm Drive. Officials did not disclose a specific opening date.


AM Update: APD's Cisco Statement, Houston Baby Abduction, Trader Joe's (Finally) Comes to Austin
By Tolly Moseley
By Carlos Morales
April 18, 2012

Trader Joe’s, the California-based grocery store, will find a home in Austin soon.

The store will be part of a series of renovations and developments set for the Seaholm Power Plant, the historic industrial zone on the edge of Austin’s downtown area, and just blocks away from the Whole Foods flagship store. From Austin-American Statesman:

In Central Texas, Trader Joe's will compete against Whole Foods, which is adding two local stores this summer;
H-E-B's Central Market; and smaller organic grocers such as Sprouts Farmers Market.

The target demographic for Trader Joe's is an "urban high-income resident" who enjoys the company's house brands and specials like $2 bottles of wine, said David Livingston, an analyst at DJL Research, a grocery consulting firm based in Waukesha, Wis.

The stores, which typically have a Hawaiian motif and are "very competitive" on cost, typically have strong followings, he said. But Austin might be a different case because of entrenched chains like Whole Foods and H-E-B. "(Austin) is exactly the kind of market they like, but they're not going to impact the competition too much here," Livingston said. "I don't see anybody at Whole Foods or H-E-B losing any sleep over this."

Trader Joe's had six other Texas locations confirmed to open this year, including Fort Worth, Houston, Plano, Dallas, The Woodlands and San Antonio.

(Video) Trader Joe's to open at Seaholm site:


Trader Joe's to open at Seaholm site
Part of major downtown redevelopment project
By Kate Weidaw
April 18, 2012

AUSTIN (KXAN) - Trader Joe's, the quirky California-based chain of specialty stores, is planning to open a location as part of the redevelopment of the Seaholm Power Plant site just south of Downtown Austin.

"Of all the nationally-known retailers to land in Austin over the past decade, it's safe to say Trader Joe's is right up there in terms of the degree of enthusiasm in which they're welcomed," said John Rosato, managing partner for Seaholm Power , which is overseeing the redevelopment project.

"Trader Joe's fits right in with our plan to draw tenants that will help create a sense of community and purpose for the southwest segment of downtown," he added.

The Austin location marks the eighth Texas store the company has announced. The others are in the Dallas and Houston areas.

The company said the Austin store, which is expected to open next year, will mix "traditional Trader Joe’s elements such as cedar covered walls and Hawaiian motifs, combined with a local flair that includes art celebrating the neighborhood."

Seaholm is on an 8-acre site bounded by Third Street on the north, the planned central library on the east and Lady Bird Lake on the south. A commuter rail line is planned for the west side of the property.

The redevelopment plan calls for an acre of outdoor event space, nearly 300 apartments, 130,000 square feet of office space and about 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction on the site could begin in July.  According to Rosato the first part of the development will be a three story underground garage that will service Trader Joe's and the nearby buildings.


April 2012

green building


Power Moves
Savvy Designers Reboot an Iconic Industrial Plant
Austin HOME
Spring 2012

More than two decades later, the hulking structure near Lady Bird Lake is poised to become one of the busiest hubs in downtown. This July, Seaholm Power Development will begin renovating the historic plant and, by the end of 2013, will have transformed the stark building, adding offices, retail shops and restaurants.

"It's an incredibly good location," says John Rosato with Southwest Strategies Group, which is part of the Seaholm Power Development partnership, adding that the building will be LEED certified and will harvest rainwater in the plant's existing infrastructure components to completely irrigate 75,000 square feet of landscaping.