1,500 apartment units opening soon in West Campus

1,500 apartment units opening soon in West Campus

Austin’s West Campus is slated to see 12 new apartment buildings open next year. That’s going to add nearly 1,500 units, or nearly 3,500 bedrooms, to the neighborhood [ + ]

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s West Campus is slated to see 12 new apartment buildings open next year. That’s going to add nearly 1,500 units, or nearly 3,500 bedrooms, to the neighborhood.

While construction for those buildings progresses, a developer has proposed another new high rise. That building is going to wrap around a 2-story historic home called the Kenney House.

The design called for removing historic zoning for the Kenney House’s parking lot. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted this week to recommend that the city take that action.

"The removal of historic zoning from the parking lot will not impact the house," Steve Sadowsky, Austin’s Historic Preservation Officer, explained in an e-mail. "The applicant is proposing a 5-foot buffer around the house that will retain historic zoning."

Right now, the Kenney House is home to a bed and breakfast called the Star of Texas Inn.

The building is already surrounded by at least three ongoing construction projects within a one block radius.

Owner Chris Mackey said, "Construction brings problems. We have noise, and people sleep here. Sometimes trucks have to operate late. That doesn’t bother most people. But detours in the neighborhood can also make things tricky."

He said noise doesn’t stop people from making reservations. He does plan, however, to close his business next May, when the building’s construction is scheduled to start.

If the City Council follows the Planning and Zoning recommendation, the newest high rise will be much closer than those active projects.

"There will be approximately 19 feet between the historic house and the proposed new construction," said Sadowsky.

Mike McHone‌, who owned, restored and sold the Kenney House years ago told KXAN the house itself will be preserved and house a coffee shop.

He said the design "embraces and shows off the Kenney House on the corner."

The apartment surrounding the historic home would add 700 bedrooms to an already booming area where many students tell us the price tag is high.

"The price of housing is very expensive around West Campus," said UT Austin sophomore Inara Hauque. "A lot of students feel that way."

Peyton Janssen, General Manager at West Campus Living, helps students find apartments.

She said units still rent extremely quickly.

"This year, we started pre-leasing right around the beginning of September," Janssen said. "For example, today, I had two different groups I went with, and both of them we looked at 3 places each, and they both picked ones they wanted to go with today."

McHone said if you consider inflation, the cost of construction and other factors, average rent for West Campus hasn’t increased too much.

"In fact, I’ve got a project that’s under construction right now that I’ve worked with, the same developer on Nueces Street, and he has bedrooms, and each bedroom is for $630 a bedroom," he said. "That’s low for a single bedroom."

Janssen told us those units do exist, but those fill up extremely quickly.

On average, she said, "Typically for a studio or one bedroom, you can’t find anything for under $1,000."

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