For this episode of Discover Austin, I visited the Domain in north Austin, a mixed-use development comprised of shops, restaurants, residential living, and office space. It sits on land once owned by IBM and its name stems from what was originally planned for that land. If you’d prefer to read about the Domain, the script can be found below the video.
Greetings, I’m Craig Smyser. The Domain is one of the country’s most successful multi-use planned developments and we’re going to take a look at it for this episode of Discover Austin.
Sometimes referred to as Austin’s second Downtown, the Domain is a collection of shops, restaurants, office buildings, and residential living. Technically, the Domain is a group of separately owned, yet coordinated developments. For example, right now I’m standing in Domain Northside which is one of the two primary shopping areas. The other area, known as The Domain, is owned by a separate company which won’t let us film on their property, so we’re going to showcase the businesses from the friendlier Domain Northside.
Between the two main shopping areas, there are over 200 stores and well over 50 restaurants. There are national brands such as Apple and Nordstrom as well as local brands including Hat Creek Burgers and The Grove. From the start, the Domain has always tried to have a nice representation of local shops and restaurants so it nice to see the good number of Austin brands that thrive here. There are also several national brands whose only Austin location is in the Domain.
But the Domain is much more than shops and restaurants. Because it is new urbanist community, the area is designed to offer not just entertainment, but work and living as well. That’s why many of the buildings have shops on the first floor and residential on the upper floors. There are no residential units, such as condos, that can be purchased. Instead, all the residential units are for lease through several apartment companies. The Domain is designed primarily for walking, but there are, of course, streets and parking garages.
There are several hotels in the Domain, including large national brands and a few boutiques like the Archer.
Much of the rest of the Domain is made up of office buildings. There are currently, or in the planning stages, about 20 commercial office buildings comprising several million square feet of space. Some of the biggest tenants are tech companies, but there are many, many smaller tenants just as you would find in any office tower.
The Domain sits on a 304-acre tract that was owned by IBM until 1999. The original plan was to build a campus for the dot-com industry, but the dot-com bust came just months after. Incidentally, the name Domain stems from this original planned use. The second plan to create a campus for telecom companies met the same fate when that market also collapsed. But the third time was the charm with the concept of the Domain as we now know it. Because this concept was so different, not all of the original partners wanted to continue so the ownership deck was shuffled up resulting in different sections being owned by different companies.
Outside of the Domain boundaries, additional development has taken place and Austinites often refer to the overall, general area as the Domain. For example, TopGolf is not in the Domain but sits just across the street. The new soccer stadium set to open in 2021 is also nearby, but outside the boundaries. Both are often cited as being “at the Domain.”
Even if you don’t live or work at the Domain, there is plenty to do so I’m sure you’ll find yourself here on a regular basis. I’m Craig Smyser, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.