Through a healthy mix of residential, commercial, and entertainment elements, downtown Austin, Texas, has come alive in the past five years. So when a prime site in the West Sixth Street district became available three years ago, developer Rance Clouse, president of Fortis Realty Services in Austin, quickly recognized the influence all three factors could have in making the parcel a successful mixed-use development. Clouse knew the 1-acre property, which formerly housed a 1960s-era apartment building, had deteriorated, but he felt its foundation, load-bearing walls, and swimming pool could be reused and many materials recycled. Plus, a change in the area’s zoning rules now permitted the addition of ground-level commercial space. To top off the site’s allure, an entertainment district, public park, and upscale supermarket were within walking distance, making the location a magnet for the area’s burgeoning population of young professionals.
To appeal to this eco-conscious demographic, and meet his own sustainability goals, Clouse wanted the new-construction project, named 904 West, to incorporate the latest energy-efficient amenities and construction methods, as well as a cool industrial aesthetic. He approached West Avenue Properties for funding, and the investment firm agreed to purchase the site. Clouse also sought out solar design and installation firm Lighthouse Solar of Austin and local utility Austin Energy for advice on making the building envelope as high-performance as possible for the soon-to-be two-story condominium building.