Austin Power: “You can’t turn me on.”
Austin Powers: “Au contraire baby, you can’t resist me.”
Austin Power’s getting turned back on, after two-plus dormant decades, as its transformation from an Art Deco design icon to a “future urban oasis . . . in downtown Austin” gets underway. Our city can’t resist a redevelopment opportunity this big in such a prime location.
Built between 1950-1958 and intended as a coal power plant, the Seaholm Power Plant building boasts three-foot thick concrete walls, includes a towering turbine room and is lit by clerestory windows that flood its three lower floors with sunlight. Before the building’s completion, it was converted to burn fuel oil, and later natural gas, but its energy-generating life ceased in 1989. Imagine that, not being turned on for 24 years.
Underutilized ever since, Seaholm’s rebirth comes with inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The project’s developers, Seaholm LLC, envision the 7.8-acre site with a mix of office space, local retail shops, restaurants, contemporary apartments, Traders Joe’s and an outdoor terrace overlooking Lady Bird Lake.
Walter Seaholm, a former utility director and city manager whose name was posthumously dedicated to the plant, sadly did not live to see any Austin Powers movies, either. ♣
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