Buyers Scoop Up Units in 28-story Austin Condo Tower as Demand for Downtown Living Surges

The Linden Residences is a 28-story residential building being developed by Reger Holdings LLC, a private real estate investment trust based in western New York.

The $150 million project is nearing completion and due to open this year at West 17th and Guadalupe streets on the site of the former William Gammon Insurance building.

Along with 117 luxury condominiums, the Linden will have retail and restaurant space. The architect is Rhode: Partners, an internationally recognized architecture and interior design firm based in Austin that has left its mark on numerous buildings on the local skyline.

DEN Property Group is marketing the units in the Linden. We caught up this month with DEN co-founder Bryan Cady, to talk about the downtown market in general, how units are selling in the Linden specifically and more.

As the Statesman recently reported, the office market downtown has a glut of space. But the downtown residential market — apartments and condos — is flourishing. People want to live downtown, with all it has to offer, housing market experts and real estate agents say.

To date, Cady said prospective buyers have contracts to purchase almost 80% of the units in the Linden.

“Despite launching during a pandemic, sales have exceeded our expectations with an average price per square foot of over $1,000 for the remaining residences,” Cady said.

“The downtown Austin condo market did not experience the high highs that the single-family housing market experienced during the pandemic,” Cady said. “As a result, the downtown condo market has not experienced the market corrections that the single-family market (in the Austin region as a whole) has experienced in the last few quarters.”

In a recent interview, Kevin Burns, an Austin real estate broker whose company specializes in downtown condo sales and development, echoed that view. Burns said the downtown condo market “hasn’t been materially affected by the downturn in the office market.”

With its dining, shopping, arts and entertainment draws, along with access to the hike-and-bike trail, “downtown Austin provides such a high quality of life,” Burns said. “People just want to live downtown.”

In July, the Statesman quoted CoStar data showing that just over 3,000 apartment units and 849 condo units are under construction downtown, with another 1,100 apartments and 780 condo units planned.

Commenting on the figures, Perry Lorenz, a longtime Austin landowner and developer, told the Statesman in July: “I think those numbers tell the tale. They’re telling you there’s a strong demand for residential housing downtown.” Lorenz has co-developed downtown condo projects and pioneered some of the earliest residential buildings, both downtown and in East Austin.

Lorenz said the people who live in the high-end condos downtown “have plenty of money” and want to live downtown — whether its office buildings have employees working in them or not. “Lifestyle is the primary driver of downtown living, not office vacancy rates,” Lorenz said. “People like the lifestyle; they like the hike-and-bike trails; they like the good restaurants. They’re not there because they work downtown necessarily.”

How active is the downtown market, despite what’s happening with the office market?

“Unlike other downtowns, our downtown is roughly 20 blocks by 20 blocks, so there is a physical cap on downtown development. More specifically, the downtown condo market remains strong as there is limited inventory of new construction condominiums for sale. In fact, the Linden Residences is the only new (condo) high-rise delivering this year,” Cady said.

What is the price range of the remaining units in The Linden Residences?

One-bedroom residences start in the low $700,000s, Cady said. Two-bedroom units start at $1.1 million. Three-bedroom units start at $1.75 million. The remaining penthouses are priced at upwards of $5 million.

How are condo sales faring overall downtown?

According to Burns, CEO of Austin-based Urbanspace Real Estate + Interiors, average sales prices of downtown condo units have been stable during the past year and sales are healthy.

This year, for high-rise condos in downtown built since 2010, the average sales price per square foot is more than $1,000. In 2019, before the pandemic, the average price was $778 per square foot, Burns said.

On average, the price for a condo unit in a downtown high-rise built since 2010 is just over $1.5 million, Burns said.

“The overall story is that prices have appreciated year over year,” Burns told the Statesman last month. However, he said there was “a bit of a correction this year from the run-up in prices (from the COVID-19 pandemic) and the tremendous increase in interest rates.”

What is the square footage of the remaining units in The Linden?

One–bedroom units start at 772 square feet and range up to 3,102 square feet for the penthouses.

How many units remain?

About 30 residences are left to sell, with a limited amount of each floor plan type available.

Of the total 117 residences, there are seven units per floor on levels 11 to 26 and five residences on the two-story penthouse levels (27th and 28th floors).

When will the first residents move into The Linden?

“The first move-ins are currently slated for late in the fourth quarter of this year,” Cady said.

Why are people choosing to move to downtown Austin?

“Convenient access to shops, restaurants, entertainment, grocery stores, etc.; lifestyle and culture offerings such as the Blanton Museum of Art; Texas History Museum and the Mexican-American Cultural Center; access to outdoor activities such as kayaking on Lady Bird Lake and strolling on the new Texas Mall; live music performances at the new Moody Center, ACL (Austin City Limits) as well as the new Moody Amphitheatre; its walkability, proximity to work and less reliance on daily drives in traffic on Interstate 35 or MoPac Boulevard,” Cady said.

In addition, Cady said, “downtown Austin represents the soul of Austin and its youthful and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Bailey Tipps, a partner at DEN Property Group, said downtown dwellers are a diverse group that includes “professionals, couples, empty nesters, investors and secondary homeowners.”

“And we are starting to see more and more families move to downtown Austin,” Tipps said.

What else is adding to downtown’s appeal?

A 2023 report from the nonprofit Downtown Austin Alliance says that downtown Austin’s “vibe and cultural offerings” continue to attract employees, with many being young professionals. The report said Austin’s millennial population grew more than that of any other U.S. city last year.

The report said pedestrian traffic has returned to 95% of pre-pandemic levels. It said 19 cranes are visible on the skyline, with 31 more projects planned over the next decade.

“Far from returning to ‘a new normal,’ downtown is on the precipice of a major transformation,” Dewitt Peart, president and CEO of the Downtown Austin Alliance, wrote in the report. Major transportation projects are in the the works that he said will better connect downtown to the rest of the city and alter “the way the area looks and feels forever.”

“With residential towers fully leased or sold before they even break ground, it is clear there is an overwhelming demand to live in the middle of this action,” the report said. Downtown can expect to see “strong leasing activity for young, single, high-income individuals.”

What are The Linden’s key amenities?

The 10th floor elevated amenity deck includes a 65-foot-long lap pool, a fitness facility, a sauna, a cold-plunge pool, a private dining and conference room, an owner’s lounge, outdoor cooking, and a pet park, Cady said.

In addition, the first-floor amenities include a 24/7 private concierge and a private lobby as well as two ground-floor retail spaces for sale.

“We are currently in negotiations with a local market as well as a food and beverage concept that in our opinion will provide additional amenities and value to both the Linden community and the surrounding downtown neighborhood,” Cady said.

Where are The Linden’s buyers coming from?

“Historically we have seen that approximately 85% of our buyers in most of the communities that we have sold are from Austin or regional buyers from Texas,” Cady said.

What area of downtown do you see taking off next?

“The area around the Capitol is essentially the last frontier of downtown development,” Cady said. “And we are seeing the center of gravity of downtown Austin shifting north with significant investment in the neighborhood including but not limited to the Dell Medical Center, Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park, the New Texas Mall, the new Moody Center and Austin’s Innovation District. We have come full circle as this neighborhood was the first frontier of downtown residential high-rise living,” Cady said, citing the Westgate and Cambridge Towers projects familiar to many Austinites.