On June 28, Capital Metro and its partners at Endeavor Real Estate and Columbus Realty celebrated the groundbreaking of the Plaza Saltillo District. Braving the warm, muggy weather, a couple hundred people gathered at Plaza Saltillo, right next to the MetroRail station and directly adjacent to a 10-acre tract of land that’s laid empty since the mid-1990s.
It won’t be empty for much longer, though. When construction is through, the development will feature 800 residential apartment units (almost 20 percent of which will be reserved as affordable housing), more than 110,000 square feet of retail space, 140,000 square feet of office space, an acre-and-a-half of open space with public art and access to a range of transportation options. In addition to MetroRail and MetroBus services, the Plaza Saltillo District will be located right along an extended Lance Armstrong Bikeway and two historical walking paths (the Tejano Music Legends Trail and the Tejano Healthy Walking Trail); it will also have access to Austin B-cycle stations and Car2Go vehicles.
Rather than your typical event with a big pile of imported dirt and shiny new shovels, the Plaza Saltillo groundbreaking featured a flag-planting ceremony. Representatives of Capital Metro, the city of Austin, Endeavor Real Estate and the neighboring community staked flags symbolizing the three organizing partners — Cap Metro, Endeavor and the city — along with the Texas state flag.
Cap Metro President/CEO Linda Watson spoke enthusiastically about the trajectory of the project, and the agency’s efforts to guide the development in a way that served the needs of Capital Metro, as well as the neighborhood and the entire region.
Pio Renteria is a member of both the transit agency’s board of directors and the Austin City Council, representing East Austin. He and East Side resident Johnny Limon talked with passion about the history and the people of East Austin. In his dual roles, Renteria was instrumental in getting the project through the final steps of the approval process. Limon, too, worked for years leading a community group dedicated to finding a solution for the abandoned railyard that will be home to the development.
Remediation work on the former Brownfield site has already started and construction of the underground parking structure will begin shortly. In all, the project is expected to take about 30 months.