- Dick Clark + Associates, Forge Craft Architecture and Design
- TBG Partners
Capital Studios is a 139,000-square-foot multifamily development with four stories of affordable apartments atop a base containing 1-2 stories of commercial space and parking. Along with 135 efficiency units arranged around an interior courtyard, the development contains a fitness center, computer lounge, community kitchen, and on-site laundry.
Behind its colorful façade, Capital Studios is changing lives. Upon its completion, the development was the first new affordable housing built in downtown Austin in 45 years. In a city where thousands are being displaced by skyrocketing rents and home prices, Capital Studios provides lower-income Austinites (particularly those who work downtown) the opportunity to live in the heart of the city adjacent to multiple transit services.
As downtown witnesses the rise of a new skyscraper every few months, this site’s location within multiple capitol view corridors makes it ideal for this low-rise, medium-density development. With units set aside for working artists and musicians as well as people who have experienced homelessness, Capital Studios offers a vision of urban living that brings together individuals from all walks of life. The architecture reinforces the idea of community–shared amenities and prominent balconies and courtyards encourage interaction among residents.
Capital Studios was conceived and managed by Foundation Communities, a homegrown nonprofit organization that operates over 20 affordable housing developments in Central Texas. Sustainability is at the center of Foundation Communities’ approach to affordable housing. Not only do green building components contribute to tenant wellbeing, but they also reduce operating costs for the building. The design of Capital Studios incorporates solar power, solar hot water, daylighting, robust insulation, and high-efficiency plumbing, lighting, and air conditioning systems.
Capital Studios provides more than just a roof overhead. Tenant services include case management, adult education, counseling, and financial planning. Remarkably, most of the operating income is generated by affordable rents. Tenant rent is tied to individual income, with the 2021 average rent just below $600 per month, including utilities (a staggering 80% below the downtown average). Additional income for operations comes from the commercial storefronts and a parking garage (tenants live a car-free lifestyle). – Bud Franck
AEGB 4-Star (Austin Energy Green Building)