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November Ideas Forum Recap: Marketplace Developments

November 19, 2015

RECA's November Ideas Forum featuring key developers of marketplace style projects in Austin took place yesterday at The Four Seasons Hotel. If you weren't there, you missed the opportunity to hear about this new trend in Austin and how it's different from traditional developments. A special thank you to Coleman & Associates for sponsoring the luncheon — you can check out all the photos here.

The discussion was moderated by Colin Pope of the Austin Business Journal, and the panelists included Brandon Bolin of GroundFloor Development, Maija Kreishman of Michael Hsu House of Architecture and Andy Smith of Parkway Properties.

Making Space Useful Again

Brandon Bolin is president and CEO of GroundFloor Development, the lead developer of the recently announced St. Elmo Market and Lofts, a large, dormant warehouse in South Austin that will be transformed into Austin’s first large-scale public market.

"We decided we needed to save this space," Bolin told the audience of more than 300 people.

The market will open at South Congress near Ben White Boulevard in 2018. The space will include a 40,000 square foot marketplace in addition to 225,000 square feet of office space.

Andy Smith of Parkway Properties and Maija Kreishman of Michael Hsu House of Architecture also shared plans for their marketplace style project, Fareground at 111 Congress. Fareground will feature seven local food vendors and along with stalls and seating, there will be several meeting and co-working spaces.

"Right now, the biggest users of that area are dogs from the Austonian," Smith said. "There isn't a great place to hang out outside downtown, and we want to create that energy and place for people to go."

Shared Spaces

Bolin, Smith and Kreishman agreed that marketplace style developments aren't just a trend and that they are here to stay.

"We're in a shared economy now — we share cars, we share office space," Bolin said. "The capital markets can sometimes roll their eyes at unique plans like these, but this sharing economy is here to stay."

Kreishman talked about the special design elements that are being incorporated into these types of projects.

"It's a really exciting time to be an architect and an employee in our city," she said. "People today work from anywhere. Offices aren't so stuffy anymore, they are more causal and open."

Rather than the old waterwall along Cesar Chavez St., Fareground will feature a 40-foot tall structure that creates a cloud at specified times.

"It's not fog, it's not mist — it's going to make a real cloud that people are going to really enjoy coming to see," Smith said.

Fareground has broken ground and is expected to open in spring 2017.

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