West Campus will have a towering new addition to its skyline with a 30-story apartment complex set to open in August 2022.
Waterloo will be one of the tallest buildings in the area at 320 feet, making it taller than both the UT Tower and the Texas State Capitol. The apartment is the first to take advantage of new amendments to the University Neighborhood Overlay density bonus program that the Austin City Council passed last year, which allows for taller buildings in West Campus.
The area of West Campus where Waterloo will be built originally could only have buildings as high as 225 feet, but the amendments allow for buildings with an additional height of 125 feet.
A certain percentage of the Waterloo apartments must be designated as affordable housing because it is part of the program. Waterloo, developed by Lincoln Ventures, will designate 10% of its units for people making 60% of the average income in Austin and another 10% of units for those making 50% of the average income, Lincoln Ventures founder David Kanne said.
“It’s just bringing those extra levels of affordability into kind of a unique project, which is really exciting for West Campus,” Kanne said. “It’s always great to see change in neighborhoods, and it’s cool to be able to use these new changes that the city council passed to bring a project forward.”
Kanne said planning for Waterloo, which will have 241 units and 797 beds, began in the spring, and construction began in July. The Waterloo apartment building will be located across the street from Cain & Abel’s at 2400 Seton Ave.
Kathie Tovo, a District 9 council member whose district includes West Campus, said the University Neighborhood Overlay has been important to additional developments in West Campus since it was established in 2004.
“It really facilitates academic success and campus involvement to be so close to campus, and that opportunity should really be available to students of all economic backgrounds,” Tovo said.
Allie Runas, chair of the West Campus Neighborhood Association, said Waterloo sounds like a perfect fit for what the University Neighborhood Overlay was intended for. She said what excited her the most was the amount of affordable housing that would be available.
“The best thing about the affordability built into UNO is that the income levels are set by (the city of Austin’s Housing and Urban Development),” UT alumna Runas said. “It’s not just saying, ‘Oh, well, these are just cheap apartments.’ They are intended for people who are lower income.”
Jake Wegmann, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, said density bonus programs are not the fix-all solution for affordable housing, but the program in West Campus is the best place for it.
“It is undoubtedly helping a lot of students from lower-income backgrounds to have the opportunity to live right next to the UT campus, which is not only enjoyable and fun and exciting, but it could be the difference between some of them having to buy a car or not buy a car and going into debt to attend UT,” Wegmann said.