The Seaholm District has become one of the most successful adaptive reuse projects in the state.
What everyone knows
The new Seaholm district is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Austin, including dining, shopping, and residential spaces. All done in a community-focused laid back, modern art-infused style.
What they don't tell you
The Water Intake Structure that sits on the shore of Lady Bird Lake just south of the Turbine Generator Building, shares many design and architectural elements with the generator building. With concrete walls and large industrial windows opening into a large interior space, ten sluice gates pulled in cooling water for the plant's steam condensers. This water was pumped to the generator building through massive underground pipes. After being used as a coolant, the water was discharged into nearby Shoal Creek.
Do it like a local
Take a stroll through the courtyard, soaking in the beautiful blend of 1950's art-deco architecture and new modern art architectural styles. Stop by "The Baked Bear" custom ice cream sandwich shop and create your own tasty treat to beat the heat. If you get the chance, check out one of the (www.bluelapislight.org) aerial acrobatics shows. Suspended from the plant's 5 smokestacks, towering high above the courtyard, acrobats dance and twirl, choreographed to music and lighting, in an elegant show of power and beauty.
For the History Buffs
Construction started in two phases that began in the late 40s and for 10 years afterward, was Austin's soal source of power. At the time, post-war Austin had a population of roughly 130,000, compared to our million today. In addition, new appliances like dishwashers and air conditioners were putting an added strain on the city's already over-worked infrastructure. The plant, built to help remedy the electrical shortfall, was a three-story Art Moderne building capable of producing 100 megawatts of electricity, which was more than enough to power the city on its own. To give you some reference here, a modern-day nuclear power plant produces 582 megawatts of power. The full plant, named for Austin’s fourth city manager Walter Seaholm, was finished in 1958. And though it was originally designed to burn coal, the utility company made the switch to burning heavy crude oil before its coal bins were ever used. As more gas, nuclear, and solar power sources were adopted around the city to supplement the aging Seaholm plant, the plant's systems had grown obsolete. Therefore, in 1989, the plant ceased generating power; though it remained an active part of the region’s power grid, with a substation just north of the new central library.
Today the 130,000 square feet of commercial space, anchored by a Trader Joe's, and the luxury condos of Seaholm Residences, provide a unique opportunity to be part of a cutting edge downtown neighborhood, with the best of Austin right at your fingertips.
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