St. Austin Catholic Parish — a landmark for decades on Guadalupe Street — is seeking proposals for “a prime Central Austin redevelopment opportunity” to add commercial uses on part of its land across from the University of Texas campus.
The parish has hired commercial real estate firm CBRE to solicit proposals from developers interested in leasing about two acres of its property at 2026 Guadalupe St. for new uses that could coexist with the parish’s existing uses, which include a church and rectory built in 1953.
St. Austin will retain the church and related improvements, while making the rest of the campus available for redevelopment for both market uses and other parish ministries, parish officials said. Proposals are due to CBRE by May 15, with the selection of a development team expected by the end of the summer.
“This is a rare opportunity for a developer to reimagine a vertically mixed-use project, anchored by a spiritual community and market uses on a dynamic site across the street from a world-class university campus,” said Eric DeJernett, a senior vice president with CBRE.
St. Austin is seeing extensive development in areas near its site. Its own property could include a substantial amount of new building under a zoning ordinance the city passed in 2004 to encourage high-density, mixed-use development, which has been flourishing in the West Campus area since then, DeJernett said.
“Given the location across from UT, the new Graduate School of Business and close proximity to the Capitol complex and new Dell hospital, we are expecting a range of possible uses for the property,” DeJernett said.
DeJernett said the obvious uses are “high quality student housing, hospitality (hotel), retail along Guadalupe and maybe an office component.”
Buildings on the site could be as tall as 175 feet, he said.
Parish officials said they intend to select a team “that has financial depth, experience in complex mixed-use projects, and a partnership approach that aligns with the parish’s core values.”
Leasing a portion of its land to a private developer “would generate enough third party revenues to help us pay for replacing our aging facilities and provide an ongoing revenue stream for future generations at St. Austin,” Rev. Charles Kullman, St. Austin’s pastor, wrote in a March 7 letter posted on the parish’s website.
In total, about two acres of the St. Austin property will be available for redevelopment, according to the request for proposals. That acreage could include the existing 221-space parking garage at West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and San Antonio Street.
The church and rectory are currently undergoing renovations. However, most of the remaining campus buildings are outdated and functionally obsolete, parish officials said.
Along with the church and rectory, the site is home to the church offices, a fellowship hall, meeting areas and a Catholic school spanning pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
In its request for proposals, the parish specifies that about 100,000 square feet would be incorporated back into the new development for new school and parish facilities.
“This is a thriving church community and K-8 Catholic school,” DeJernett said. “However, the buildings are old and nearing the end of their useful life. The plan is to monetize the value of the land and (zoning) allowances to create a win-win where the parish gets new facilities and a developer gets a new project in an irreplaceable location. This would be wrapped into a long-term ground lease agreement, which is quite common in desirable locations.”
St. Austin was founded in 1908 as the third Catholic parish in Austin. The parish is served by the Paulist Fathers, a religious community of priests established in the United States in 1858.
Along with St. Austin, the Paulist Fathers serve as staff at the University Catholic Center, the campus ministry center at UT.
Parish officials said the new development should include flexible space to “improve service, meeting, fellowship, daily operations, overall productivity (and) organizational effectiveness, as well as employee, parishioner and student satisfaction and retention.”
In his March 7 letter, Kullman said the developer solicitation outlines “our parish and school needs — now it’s time to see what creativity a developer could bring to our campus.”