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East Austin Towers Get Go-Ahead

Height increase approved

In a contentious but restrained meeting Tuesday night, the Austin Planning Commission approved a requested height allowance increase for a controversial project in East Austin.

As planned, the One Two East development will include two luxury residence towers—one for active seniors, and one of market-rate apartment for individuals and families—on the corner of East 12th Street and the northbound I-35 access road. The bottom floor is to house a full-service grocery store. Renderings show townhomes and a plaza facing Branch Street, in back of the structure.

The 2.8-acre site had entitlements to build up to 150 feet on some portions (some areas were limited to 100 feet due to Capitol view corridor considerations), higher than any other tract on the east side of the highway between Lady Bird Lake and the Mueller neighborhood.

Developers' representative Drenner Group requested and received an additional 35-foot allowance in the existing area with the 150-foot allowance.

Surrounding neighborhood groups officially objected to the allowance due to concerns about traffic on Branch, which narrows to 18 feet wide at some points (and is usually lined on both sides with parking for Franklin Barbecue). The groups were particularly skeptical that two garage entrance points on Branch would work on the narrow street.

In addition, neighborhood residents expressed fear that towers potentially out of scale with the single family homes directly behind them—many sold by the city to residents who qualify for its affordable housing program—will increase taxes and decrease the desirability of the neighborhood, eventually leading to replacement by more large buildings.