Courtesy of WAX

Texas’ tallest building is set to grace the capital city's skyline three years from now. At 74 stories tall and 1,022 feet high, the downtown Austin mixed-use project — carrying the new name of Waterline — is scheduled to open in late 2026.

Construction is underway at 98 Red River St., near the Austin Convention Center.

Developers of Waterline released specifics about the project September 6. Word surfaced in June 2020 that the Red River site would be home to the state’s tallest building, but the developers hadn’t confirmed the height.

In verifying the height of the building, developers Lincoln Property Co. and Kairoi Residential, along with investment partner PSP Investments, also unveiled details of Waterline such as:

  • 251-room 1 Hotel Austin, the first Texas location for hospitality company SH Hotel Resorts’ sustainability-focused 1 Hotels brand.
  • 700,000 square feet of office space.
  • 352 high-end apartments.

The height of Waterline will eclipse that of Texas’ current titleholder by 5 feet. Houston’s 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower stands 1,002 feet tall, making it the state’s tallest high-rise.

Of course, Waterline also will reign as Austin’s tallest building. The 66-story, 875-foot-tall Sixth and Guadalupe tower under construction in downtown Austin will temporarily hold the title of Austin’s tallest building.

“Downtown Austin offers one of the most dynamic markets and skylines in the nation, and we’re excited to help drive its ongoing transformation,” Seth Johnston, senior vice president of Lincoln Property, says in a news release. “Waterline marks a new milestone for downtown not only because of its height but also because of the positive impact this project will have on improving connectivity, enhancing public amenities, and attracting more people to this beautiful area of downtown.”

Developers say Waterline will serve as a new gateway from the Central Business District to the Rainey Street entertainment district. The developers will add two pedestrian bridges over Waller Creek from the west, as well as three pedestrian and bicycle access points to Waterloo Greenway from the east.

The development team is contributing $1 million to the Waterloo Greenway initiative to help pay for improvements to the 1.5-mile trail connecting the University of Texas to Lady Bird Lake.

Designed by renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, Waterline will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, warm textures, and native stone.

“Waterline will offer a truly unique experience with unrivaled views, world-class amenities, and a thoughtful design that connects the building’s interior with the project’s unique natural surroundings throughout the building,” says Michael Lynd Jr., CEO of Kairoi Residential. “We’re thrilled to introduce Austin’s next iconic project.”

The building’s ground floor will offer 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space overlooking Waller Creek and the Waterloo Greenway.

1 Hotel Austin will occupy the next 13 floors, with a ballroom and meeting spaces on the 14th floor, and a rooftop pool with food and beverage service on the 16th floor.

The office portion of the tower will occupy 27 stories, with a 14th-floor amenity deck offering 24,000 square feet of landscaped outdoor space along with a bar and lounge, indoor meeting spaces, and a prep kitchen for special events.

The apartments will take up the top 33 stories. Residents will enjoy access to two pools on the 41st floor, along with a lounge, bar, kitchen, and co-working space. A movement studio, workout studio, and steam room will be one floor above, in addition to soaking tubs, hammocks, a barbecue pit, and a dining area.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa/Facebook []

3 choose-your-own-adventure San Antonio vacations to book this fall

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted

And just like that, summer is over. Kidding, kidding — we have months of 90-degree temperatures left. Still, school is back in session and with September's arrival, it’s time to start booking those fall vacations.

This year, with airlines flailing and the economy doing whatever it is the economy does, perhaps it’s time to consider a getaway to San Antonio. A change of scenery can boost mental health while taking a sustained break from work has proven to increase physical health. Plus, there's zero percent chance of lost baggage or flight delays.

This fall, as the heat begins to break, but before the holidays hit, consider these choose-your-own-adventure vacations.

Take the whole family to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
The magic of the JW Marriott is its combination of water park and resort, making it an ideal destination for families. Situated in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, this sprawling retreat offers nearly every amenity possible: golf courses, pickle ball and tennis courts, winding trails, luxury spa, onsite restaurants, Top Golf, and the list goes on. Adding to the fun, family-oriented atmosphere are special events like nightly s’mores by the fire and petting zoos.

Where the JW Marriott really shines is the water park, a massive complex of pools, sand beaches, towering water slides, and 1,100-foot lazy river encircling the entire thing. The slides range from kiddie-size flumes to the Canyon Oak Twister and Hill Country Plunge body slides, both of which start 60 feet in the air and hit speeds of up to 20 mph. (Just remember to keep your arms and legs crossed, something this author learned from experience is not just a suggestion.)

If you need a place to shake off the adrenaline high, consider renting one of the resort’s poolside cabanas. Though it’s an added expense, the attentive staff makes sure everyone has fresh towels, snacks, and cocktails while a personal fridge comes loaded with bottled water and non-alcoholic drinks. Cabanas also offer a personal mini-deck inside the larger pool with lounge chairs so the kids can splash while you relax.

Book a romantic downtown getaway
San Antonio has no shortage of fabulous downtown hotels, but there’s something magical about the Hotel Havana. The 113-year-old building has almost always been a hotel, beginning at the turn of the century when it was used to house out-of-town merchants who traveled into San Antonio to sell their wares. Today, the boutique hotel offers an industrial-meets-gothic vibe complete with creaky floorboards and crimson carpet leading up the grand staircase.

Though there’s no pool at this Bunkhouse Hotel (if a pool is a must, The Thompson is another favorite situated just a few blocks away), it does offer Ocho, an onsite restaurant with a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling wall of windows, and a subterranean bar.

Make the Havana home base as you explore the River Walk, Southtown, and King William. If you find yourself forced to take an e-scooter by your significant other, as I was during a stay at the Havana last fall, use it to play tourist. Take it for a drive by the Alamo (do note that scooters are programmed to automatically slow to a crawl around the famed attraction) and on through Hemisfair on your way to appetizers and early evening cocktails at Little Em’s Oyster Bar or the new-ish Up Scale, two Southtown hot spots owned by Houston and Emily Carpenter.

For dinner, book a late table at Shiro and take a Lyft (or a scooter if someone forces you to) to the north end of the River Walk for sushi and other Japanese fare. After dinner, take a leisurely stroll back along the river to the hotel for a night cap. (Pro tip: Use the restroom before leaving Shiro or you may end up speed walking the last half of the River Walk and your romantic walk will be ruined.)

Live out your Eloise fantasies at the Hotel Emma
Looking for a solo staycation? San Antonio has the perfect spot for that, too: Hotel Emma. At this point, the Emma needs no introduction; the hotel has won countless awards and topped best-of lists for the past seven years. And the August 25 news that chef Jorge Hernandez is taking over the culinary program will only heighten its acclaim. All of this is to say is the Hotel Emma is nice. Very, very nice. And there is no better place to spend a little time (and a lot of money) than soaking in a giant tub in a four-star hotel with a professionally made cocktail delivered directly to your room.

Hotel Emma is located in the heart of the Pearl, a tourist destination in its own right, but when we’re traveling alone, we want to explore as much as possible. Head to Alamo Heights to fuel up with an early morning nosh at Bird Bakery before heading to the McNay Art Museum. On your way back to the Pearl, take a detour down the St. Mary’s Strip for lunch at Singh’s (shrimp bún with a side of chili oil and a Topo) and poke around the nearby vintage shops.

Recharge that afternoon with an in-room massage at Hotel Emma by Hiatus Spa + Retreat and the aforementioned soak ‘n’ cocktail. For dinner, take yourself on a date to Scorpion, an impeccably designed cafe and natural wine bar on the East Side. Once back at the Emma, cozy up in a plush robe and an episode of reality TV. You deserve it.

The otherwordly sunsets atop the JW Marriott willl have guests forgetting they're still in San Antonio.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa/Facebook []
The otherwordly sunsets atop the JW Marriott willl have guests forgetting they're still in San Antonio.
Admora Partners

Rare loft in Dallas' Cedars District on market for first time since 1993

House For Sale

There's a rare loft for sale in Dallas' Cedars District, situated a mere five blocks from Dallas City Hall.

It's located at 1311 S. Akard St., just south of I-30, and is on the market for the first time since 1993. It's listed by Admora Partners for $1,399,000.

Admora Partners agent Sam Crain calls it a "prime live/work opportunity" in The Cedars, comprising 5,547 square feet. That includes 1,331 square feet of apartment space, with a fully equipped open kitchen and two full bathrooms.

The footprint includes a 600 square-foot loft currently used as the main bedroom, stacked on top of a 600-square-foot garage that has room for two vehicles.

The remaining square footage consists of potential showroom, warehouse, business, or flex space.

The Akard Street facade is completely nondescript. Access to the living area is behind gates. The residential part overlooks an elongated driveway with Powhattan, the side street, behind it.

There's also access to the rooftop via a hatch in the loft, which you reach via a spiral staircase.

These are the facts — but it's how the property has been appointed and the sundry potential uses that make it special, says agent Sam Crain, with options such as retail with a live-in space or office space for a home business.

"What they did with the living space is amazing," he says. "They did such a tasteful job on the finish out, and it's rare to have that roof access with views of downtown Dallas."

"We usually focus on commercial properties, but this is a blend of both that's different from most of our listings," he says.

The loft belongs to Richard D. Curtin, artist, former entertainment director for Caven Enterprises, and well known drag entertainer Edna Jean Robinson, who'd lived there since the early 90s.

He and his former partner looked for a year before finding the space.

"We were only the second owner - we bought it from Robin Manufacturing, who make plantation shutters, blinds, and flooring, and who were relocating to Plano," he says. "We were definitely among the first to settle in Cedars, and the area was really bad back then. The building was also in decay. We did a lot of work on it."

That included creating a brilliant split-level floor plan with an entry from the garage leading up to the kitchen and main living area, and adding a loft level for sleeping space.

Curtin, who has moved to the Marfa area where he's teaching college art history classes, is a graphic designer with a refined eye and museum-level skill at re-using vintage and reclaimed materials.

"Re-use is important to me," he says. "All of the chandeliers are old except for one."

The countertops were salvaged from a remodel of a hotel, and he found the spiral staircase in an auction of a Victorian house in Massachusetts that was being razed.

"The iron railing on the second floor that keeps you from falling came from a cemetery in Delaware," he says. "It's Art Nouveau. I worked with a welder to match the design so that all 30 feet of the railing had that Art Nouveau theme throughout."

There's also the piece he calls "Big Red" - a giant slab of ruddy red granite that's cut straight on three sides, with one side organically unfinished. It sits atop an island in the kitchen, an eye-catching pleasure.

"I found it at a granite salvage place, and they were apologizing because the edge was ragged, but I said, 'That's exactly how I want it,'" he says.

Loft at 1311 S. Akard St. boasts an open kitchen - check out that slab of granite dubbed "Big Red."

Admora Partners
Loft at 1311 S. Akard St. boasts an open kitchen - check out that slab of granite dubbed "Big Red."
Photo by Kathy Tran

Cafe at Dallas' AT&T District from famous Food Network chef closes

Downtown News

A downtown Dallas cafe from celebrity chef Amanda Freitag has closed: Rise & Thyme, which served as a linchpin of the buzzy AT&T Discovery District, closed on August 31.

Freitag is the acclaimed chef and Food Network regular who has battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, competed for the title of America's Next Iron Chef, and serves as a judge on Chopped.

A spokesperson confirmed the closure — but in good news, said the concept would be relocating to Victory Park, to a location still TBA.

"The new location is larger and will provide more flexibility for the brand to develop more fully," the spokesperson said. "The Discovery District has been a great spot to incubate. We're proud of the good reviews we've received, and Amanda has loved being part of the downtown community."

The move will provide the restaurant with the opportunity to introduce a real bar program, with bloody Marys, mimosas, and wine by the glass.

Rise & Thyme was a sophisticated and highly practical outpost, with a menu of great-yet-affordable sandwiches, pastas, salads, and sweets — a reliable destination for downtown residents and office workers to get coffee and grab-and-go tacos and toasts for breakfast and lunch.

It also ably competed in an intersection that was home to three other coffee shops including Starbucks, Otto's, and White Horse Cafe.

The cafe opened in 2020 as part of a wave of restaurants such as Jaxon and Bobber's Burgers. In May 2022, the Discovery District executed a shake-up, replacing originals such as Texas brasserie Ounce and Asian restaurant Ichi Ni San with a new lineup that includes slider concept Easy Sliders, a chicken place called Birdie, and a rotating chef concept called Attalie.

Freitag just landed a new cooking competition show: Called Chef Swap at the Beach, it'll feature Freitag uncovering restaurant gems on Myrtle Beach, and is slated to premiere on the Cooking Channel in October.

Meanwhile, AT&T is currently working on a replacement concept to go into Rise & Thyme's space at the Discovery District.

Courtesy photo

Vintage trolley from old Dallas Spaghetti Warehouse has new (temporary) home

Trolley News

A vintage Dallas streetcar has found a temporary new home: The trolley, once tucked inside the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End, will find a safe and secure berth at Orr Reed Architectural Co., a salvage store located a few miles south of downtown Dallas, which will provide temporary quarters while the vehicle gets renovated in preparation for its final home.

The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.

The streetcar attracted an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.

The trolley was then bequeathed to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association representing more than 800 homes in Old East Dallas, east of Munger Place, south of Swiss Avenue and southwest of Lakewood.

The organization wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights and East Dallas, says a spokesperson who serves on the Junius Heights' trolley committee, and who also has a personal connection.

"The streetcar lines were built by the developer who was selling lots in East Dallas," she says. "Workers could take it to their offices downtown. It operated until the 1950s. My grandfather was a delivery driver for a paper company in Richardson that would deliver paper to offices in downtown Dallas. He could park his truck outside downtown and get on a subway that took him underground into the bottom of the office buildings in Dallas."

It's one of the few streetcars from that era that still exists.

"It was of particular interest to our neighborhood since it has 'Junius Heights' in that little strip across the front where it shows the next stop," she says.

The trolley has no wheels or motor parts, so it won't be mobile. The organization's goal is to make it an interactive museum attraction.

"We hope that it can continue the purpose it served inside Spaghetti Warehouse where people can experience sitting inside a street car — but back in our neighborhood," she says. "We still need to determine the best location where it can be secure and have protection from the elements, but the objective is to preserve it and save it from the scrapyard."

When they were seeking a place where it could stay during renovations, up stepped Hannah Hargrove, owner of Orr Reed, which is dedicated to finding new homes for items of value such as reclaimed hardwood, antique lumber, doors, and wrought iron fences.

"I actually wanted to buy it — it's a piece of our city's history," Hargrove says. "But when I read the fine print on the auction, I knew there was no way I could get it out. It was heartbreaking. Then during the pandemic, I was approached by the Junius Heights Historic District. who had raised enough funds to move it."

"We determined that we could probably make the room and that our gates were big enough to accommodate its entry," she says.

The trolley is currently being disassembled in anticipation of the journey, which they're hoping will take place this fall.

Hargrove and her team spent much of August reconfiguring their warehouse to make space. (They've also been hosting sales to make space, check out the vintage sky-blue Frigidaire wall oven.)

"It's going into a corner where we usually store larger furniture items and really nice windows — nothing that was easy to move," Hargrove says.

"But we wanted to make sure that this piece of city history was preserved," she says. "We care about these things. Do I need the space, of course I do — but this is a piece of our history we cannot get back."

Free Play

Massive arcade with pinball and cocktails joins mix at Dallas' Trinity Groves

Game News

There's something new coming to Trinity Groves in West Dallas, and for once it's not a restaurant: It's Free Play, a popular local arcade chain, which will open at 3015 Gulden Rd., in the former 3015 at Trinity Groves event space.

Free Play made its DFW debut with a first location that opened in Richardson in 2015. Three more locations have opened since, in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Denton.

Each boasts dozens of games, some vintage from the 1980s, including titles such as Ms. Pac Man, Defender and Tempest. In addition to the games, the arcade includes a dining area with food, cocktails, and craft beers.

All have a cool retro theme and a unique payment approach: As the name suggests, every video is set to "free play" mode, with patrons paying a single entry price for unlimited play on every game in the arcade.

Their goal is to offer the best arcade games, in the best condition, to everyone. "No matter what it takes, we want you to walk into a retro arcade that has working games, running real components, just as they did when they were released," their mission says.

Founder Corey Hyden says that opening an arcade in Dallas was a goal, and the Trinity Groves space — which was slated to become a kitchen equipment demo store, until that fell through during the pandemic — turned out to be ideal.

"It's good for us, and it's good for Trinity Groves," Hyden says. "Our customers are the young gamers, we'll bring in that traffic to Trinity Groves, and meanwhile we're looking to broaden our appeal to everyone. They're launching more restaurants and it's about to be a beehive of activity."

Dallas will be the largest Free Play yet.

"It's officially a little more than 10,000 square feet, although I think it's even bigger," Hyden says. "Our biggest so far is Arlington, at 9,000 square feet."

"But beyond the size, I think the coolest thing about the Dallas location is that there isn't a single wall or beam inside," he says. "It's a cool old grain silo building with a sloped roof. So we'll be able to use the space much more creatively. We'll be able to put more games, and big games we haven't put in any of our other arcades."

They'll also feature what has been the biggest game trend in recent years: the good old-fashioned pinball machine.

"Pinball is experiencing a huge resurgence not only in the U.S. but around the world," Hyden says. "There are now four to five manufacturers in the U.S. making machines, plus international manufacturers. It's been the biggest surprise in the arcade world."

The other trend that Hyden has seen at his arcades is a stronger interest in cocktails, especially since the pandemic.

"We'll always feature craft beers, but people have gravitated towards cocktails and we've improved our bar program, increasing the selection and quality of our cocktails," he says.

He's hoping to be open by the holidays, with only one thing standing in the way: His mildly obsessive desire to make the Dallas location super tricked out.

"We're planning on a ton of light shows, using everything we've learned about design, with more high-tech stuff including video matrix devices and cool A/V displays," he says. "The goal is to feature things that people haven't seen before."

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Top-ranked high schools make the grade in this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 2 distinguished Dallas high schools sit at head of the class as Texas' best in 2022. Two campuses in Dallas have earned extra credit as the best high schools in Texas. In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented & Gifted tops the list of the state’s best public high schools, and St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas leads the list of the state’s best private high schools.

2. NFL legend Terry Bradshaw's ranch north of Dallas listed for $22.5 million. An Oklahoma ranch around 70 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth that’s owned by NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw is back on the market for $22.5 million. The 744-acre ranch was relisted after a deal with a would-be buyer fell through.

3. Dallas grilled cheese restaurant abruptly closes location in Oak Cliff. A Bishop Arts restaurant dedicated to making grilled cheese sandwiches has closed: The aptly named Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. closed its original location at 310 W. 7th St., after nearly eight years. According to co-owner Diana Ezzell, the closure was prompted by problems with the location.

4. Best vegan grocer in Denton relocates to market-deli space. An acclaimed market in Denton specializing in all things vegan is making a move: Mashup Market, the plant-based specialty grocer that debuted at 316 Oak St. in 2020, is closing that original location and making its new headquarters at 1302 W. Hickory St., its second location that opened in 2021.

5. Dallas man allegedly scammed $26M from Chinese real estate investors. A Dallas-area man has been charged for allegedly scamming Chinese investors out of more than $26 million in a real estate scheme. Timothy Lynch Barton, the 59-year-old president of real estate development firm JMJ and CEO of real estate investment firm Carnegie Development, has been indicted on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of securities fraud.

Beto to visit Dallas college campuses following debate on TV with Abbott

Campaign News

On November 8, Texas will vote for its next governor — choosing from either incumbent Republican Greg Abbott or Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

In anticipation, the two will participate in a debate on September 30, which takes place at 7 pm at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. It's hosted by KXAN news anchor Britt Moreno and will feature questions from a panel of journalists.

The debate will air on Nexstar television stations which in Dallas is KDAF Channel 33; the Texas Tribune will also livestream.

It's their only scheduled debate and according to the Associated Press, Abbott conditioned his participation on the debate taking place without an audience.

"Sources tell me Abbott would only agree to face Beto with no audience in the room," said journalist Scott Braddock, in a tweet which is right here:

This will be first time Abbott and O'Rourke meet since the May 25 press conference where O’Rourke confronted Abbott after the shooting in Uvalde.

O'Rourke, who previously undertook a summer tour across Texas, holding 70 public events in more than 65 counties, is now launching a College Tour focused on young voters. It includes visits to two Dallas-area campuses, with only one open to the public, as follows:

  • Monday October 3, 10 am: Town Hall at University of North Texas, at the University of North Texas - Gateway Center Ballroom, 801 N. Texas Blvd., Denton. Open to UNT students only.
  • Monday October 3, 12:30 pm: College Tour Town Hall at Dallas College El Centro Campus, 801 Main St., Dallas. Open to the public.

During the College Tour, he'll hold more than a dozen public events at colleges and universities around the state, affording an opportunity not only for him to share his platform — reproductive freedom, reducing gun violence, raising minimum wage, legalizing marijuana — but also an opportunity to get students and young people registered before the October 11 deadline.

'Wide-awake' Dallas neighbor is 2nd best U.S city for families, says Fortune

No place like home

Fortune advises readers to not let Wylie’s “picturesque, historic downtown fool you.” And for good reason. The magazine hails the North Texas city as “a fast-growing, modern community that doesn’t skimp on the amenities.”

Thanks in large part to those amenities, Fortune puts Wylie at No. 2 on its list of the 25 best places in the U.S. for families to live. Ann Arbor, Michigan, takes the top spot.

In recognizing Wylie, the magazine cites the city’s well-above-average public schools, numerous facilities for older residents, and events such as the Bluegrass on Ballard festival and Wylie 500 Pedal Car Race.

"With its start as a stop on the Santa Fe Railway in the 1880s, Wylie has always been a gathering place," the magazine writes. "In fact, because shops stayed open late to accommodate the railway visitors and business, one of the town’s nicknames became 'Wide-Awake Wylie.' The historic downtown continues that tradition of community today..."

Fortune lists the median home price in Wylie as $399,838 and the median household income as $96,845. The booming suburb is home to nearly 60,000 residents. It now stretches across Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties.

To come up with its ranking, Fortune combed through mounds of data for almost 2,000 communities in the U.S.

The only other Texas city in the top 25 is the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, ranked 17th.

“Residents have a sweet spot for this Houston suburb that brings the community together through its lively downtown hub, local events, and even a ball game or two,” Fortune says.

Among other highlights, Fortune notes Sugar Land’s “outstanding schools,” the Sugar Land Space Cowboys minor-league baseball team, Sugar Land Town Square, and high-quality health care at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital.

In Sugar Land, the median home price is $399,250 and the median household income is $121,665, according to Fortune. The suburb is home to around 110,000 people.