Inside the next building to forever change Austin’s skyline

The Independent (KXAN Photo)
The Independent (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Developers say construction on Austin’s soon-to-be tallest building is right on schedule. The Independent is slated to be the tallest residential structure west of the Mississippi River once it’s completed in 2019.

High-rise living isn’t for everyone or for every budget, but there’s no denying there’s a real demand for it. Several cranes are towering over downtown Austin right now as crews work to complete tall residential buildings.

The Independent will rise above the rest at 685 feet and 58 stories. It’s been nicknamed the Jenga Tower because of its unique, off-center design. “Austin’s a city on the move. It’s a dynamic place, it’s a creative place, it’s a fun place; we wanted to try to find a way to have the design reflect that but still in a refined and an elegant way,” says Ryan Fetgatter, VP of Development with Aspen Heights, a firm working on the project.

View from The Independent (KXAN/Sydney Benter)
View from The Independent (KXAN Photo/Sydney Benter)

At its peak, there will be more than 400 workers on site. Margaret Shaw, economic development program manager for the city’s Economic Development Department, stops by the project every other week to check on its progress. She says she’s never seen anything like it. “When you see projects like this and the Seaholm District and our Second Street district that the city has been behind, you really see in 15 years how downtown — the western side of downtown — has just transformed,” says Shaw.

Developers are working to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold designation, the second highest of such designations. The architects behind the project have already been honored with American Architecture Prize for tall buildings.

The building is expected to be complete in 2019. Units range from the mid $400,000s to $3.4 million and will be between 675 and well over 3,000 square feet.

View from The Independent (KXAN/Sydney Benter)
View from The Independent (KXAN Photo/Sydney Benter)

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