University Towers to be demolished for new student housing development

Sara Johnson

University Towers’ building is being demolished to prepare for two student housing complexes: The Mark at Austin and The Standard at Austin.

Landmark Properties Inc. is building the complexes to occupy the space where the 50-year-old building and garage were located. 

Construction began on The Standard after the demolition of University Towers’ parking garage on Jan. 6. While the University Towers building is largely intact, Landmark closed the complex before this semester in preparation for the demolition beginning this year.

Landmark media representative Cody Nichelson, said construction on The Mark and The Standard would not be complete until 2023 and 2021, respectively. The properties will be the first ones in Austin by Landmark, which manages eight other student housing complexes in Texas.

“We’ve seen continued demand for high-quality off-campus housing options that are close to UT, and we plan to provide it,” Nichelson said.

Nichelson said The Mark at Austin will be a 15-story building with 281 apartment units and 975 beds, and The Standard will be a 17-story building with 287 apartment units and 974 beds. The complexes will include space for 2,000 residents and 8,000 square feet of retail space, Nichelson said. 

“We’re committed to being good neighbors in the West Campus community and providing students and other residents with quality housing,” Nichelson said.

In 2010, the city of Austin reported data that showed 78705, the zip code of UT and West Campus, as one of the most densely-populated areas in Austin, with projected growth between 10,000 and 40,000 people in the next 30 years.

Allie Runas, chair of the West Campus Neighborhood Association, said property development agencies are redeveloping lots of older buildings. She said projects such as The Mark and The Standard address a larger need for more student housing in the West Campus area.

“Students have to live further away to even be able to afford going to UT,” Runas said. “More student housing would bring down the price and make it more of a financial reality, especially at a school like UT where not all freshmen can live on campus.”

Design senior Maya Coplin said she is concerned about the amount of new apartments in the area.

“I don’t think there needs to be any more (student housing),” said Coplin, who lives in West Campus. “There might end up being more housing than there are students.”

Runas, however, said she was confident in the need for more student housing in the area.

“Housing costs are one of the factors displacing students all across the city,” Runas said. “This is going to help people live where they want to, so they can go to the schools they want and have the future they want.”

Runas said the complexes contribute to the seemingly never-ending construction in West Campus that blocks off roads, stirs up dust and is loud, but she believes it is a “necessary growing pain” for expanding student housing in West Campus.

“It’s an annoyance we all have to put up with,” Runas said. “We might lose sidewalk space and bicycle lanes while construction is going on, but this is construction we need since there are more people moving to West Campus.”