Developers expand planned mixed-use project along Austin's East Riverside Drive

Posted on December 21, 2020

A major mixed-use development planned along East Riverside Drive in Austin is getting a dozen acres bigger, and the project's cost could top $4 billion, its developers said Monday.

Initially known as 4700 East Riverside, the project has been rebranded with the new name River Park. It is expected to be built in phases over the next 10 to 20 years.

The development, which has drawn opposition from some residents and community members, is increasing from 97 acres to 109 acres, with plans now calling for more than 10 million square feet of new development. Its developers said the cost at full buildout will likely be more than $4 billion, based on 2020 valuations. 

Presidium is developing the project along with Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager that invests on behalf of about 900 institutional investors.  Presidium and Partners Group began assembling the properties for the proposed Riverside project in 2017. 

“We’re excited to start implementing years of city initiatives, collaborative planning and community vision at River Park,” Michael Piano, Presidium's director of development, said in a written statement.  “The location and size of River Park provide a unique opportunity to solve and address some of Austin’s biggest challenges such as housing supply, affordability, connectivity and mobility -- all on an urban-infill site within five minutes of downtown.”

River Park includes the 97 acres that Presidium and Partners Group received rezoning on last year under the name 4700 East Riverside, and now an adjacent 12-acre Parke Green retail center that the partnership also owns.

Located just east of software giant Oracle’s newly announced headquarters, the 109 acres are bordered by Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park, East Riverside Drive, Pleasant Valley Road and Country Club Creek. 

River Park's developers said it's too early to provide a groundbreaking date. Market demand will determine which components start first, they said. During the zoning case, developers said that the soonest any work would begin would be 2021.

The new master plan envisions more than 10 million square feet of mixed-use development that includes office, retail, hotel, entertainment and residential uses.

Plans call for more than 30 acres of publicly accessible open space, parkland and urban trails leading into Guerrero Park. Included in that will be a 2 acre park east of Wickersham Lane and adjacent to Country Club Creek.

The East Riverside project has drawn opposition, with critics saying they are concerned about east Austin's ongoing gentrification. East Austin long has been home to a preponderance of Austin's minority population. But developers have swooped in on the area within the past couple of decades, and now it is teeming with upscale luxury apartments and condos, along with new commercial development.

Critics have likened the River Park project to a Domain-like development, after the mixed-use development in North Austin that is known as Austin's "second downtown." The Domain is home to scores of high-end retailers, as well as residential, office and entertainment uses. 

River Park's developers say their plan is to create a walkable, connected, transit-oriented development that will align with city of Austin goals in a number of areas, including affordability. They said that when completed, River Park will have 400 housing units at below-market rates. Projected rents have not been released for either the market-rate or below-market-rate units.

“River Park has all the ingredients for smart, responsible and equitable growth in Austin’s core by providing housing and multi-modal transit options, with access to trails, parks and open spaces, " Mark Bulmash, Presidium’s president of mixed-use and master plan development, said in a written statement. "Plus, it’s all located in close proximity to Lady Bird Lake, downtown and the airport."

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