Construction to begin on redevelopment of Seaholm Power Plant


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 11:57 PM

AUSTIN -- It is a beloved landmark.

"It's unique to Austin," said Austin resident Karley Maskavich. 

A symbol of old Austin and the 1950s.

"For those of us who have lived here three decades or more and passed it virtually everyday, there's a special place in our hearts for the building itself," said Jim Susman. 

But now it's time for the Seaholm Power Plant to get a 21st century makeover. Construction to convert the plant into a social hub begins next week.

"I am glad to see it go and get used for a better, upgraded use than just seeing an empty, dead building," said Austin resident Phil Capron.

The two lots around the plant won't be empty anymore either. On the north side will sit a two-story retail building with a parking garage underneath. Right now there's only one confirmed store, Trader Joe's.

On the other side of the plant will be a 30-story apartment building with 300 units.

The plant itself will become office space that will be open to the public with a plaza and green space in the middle.

The design team said their intent is to preserve the industrial feel and historical value of the power plant, so everything from the concrete structure to the crane that's at the top of the building will remain.

"The building is such a jewel and so iconic in Austin's fabric that to do anything to it really would have been violating the building itself," said Susman, the design architect of the Seaholm redevelopment.

"I think it makes the funky Austin just exactly what this town needs, more than brand new projects," Capron said.

The two-story retail building will be complete by next summer. The high-rise will take 30 months to construct. The contractor will also extend 2nd Street, West Street and Seaholm Drive into the development. The City will reimburse the company.

"Constructionwise it's going to be a pain but I think in the end it will be more opportunities for more growth in the area," said Maskavich, who lives across the street.

The Seaholm project will be changing the perimeter of downtown, by rejuvenating an Austin treasure.

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