Macro problems, Micro solutions

New micro-apartment project in the works for heart of South Austin

New micro-apartment project in the works for heart of South Austin

Bruno - Story Built
Each of the StoryBuilt communities is named after a rescued animal or an employee pet.  Courtesy of StoryBuilt

Amid skyrocketing housing costs for renters, another micro-apartment project — designed to ease the rent burden — is being built in Austin.

StoryBuilt, an Austin-based real estate developer, is putting up a building in South Austin that will contain 38 studio apartments and four one-bedroom apartments. Units at the project, called Bruno, will range in size from 308 to 703 square feet; the average size is 411 square feet.

The project, at 2001 S. First St. (former home of StoryBuilt’s headquarters), will also feature 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space.

Construction is on track to start this month, with completion scheduled for the second quarter of 2023. The project is near South Austin fixtures Bouldin Creek Cafe and Polvos.

“Bruno is one of only a handful of micro-unit developments in Austin, and the only one in South Austin with such proximity to downtown,” Ross Wilson, Austin and San Antonio division president of StoryBuilt, says in a news release.

Bruno joins a handful of micro-apartment projects that have been announced or are underway in Austin. For instance, Watershed Development Group recently broke ground on a project with 60 micro-apartments at 1812 E. Sixth St. in East Austin.

“The smaller unit type we are building at Bruno is an attractive option for the urban dweller that values a vibrant neighborhood and access to the city around them,” Wilson says.

Although StoryBuilt hasn’t determined rental rates yet, the company says it aims to offer “attainably priced housing” close to downtown.

According to the RentCafe rental platform, Austin’s average apartment rent in February was $1,735, with an average unit size of 865 square feet. Not surprisingly, the highest priced neighborhood for renters is downtown Austin. There, the average rent in February was $3,163, RentCafe says.

report from real estate platform Redfin shows that among the 50 biggest U.S. metro areas, Austin witnessed the biggest jump in rents (40 percent) from February 2021 to February 2022. Apartment List, however, says the Austin area saw a considerably smaller rise (23 percent) in rental rates from March 2021 to March 2022.