Church Picks Austin Developer

Adapted from the Office of Public Affairs

The Episcopal Church has chosen Cielo Property Group to develop a church-owned city block in downtown Austin as the new home of the Archives of the Episcopal Church and an adjoining mixed-use project.

The Episcopal Church purchased the Austin city block bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Trinity, and Neches Streets in 2009 as the site for the archives. The new 67,000-square-foot home of the archives will include research, exhibit, and public space. The facility will serve as a space in which Episcopalians and others can study and celebrate the history, beliefs, and work of the church and provide a cultural amenity for the broader Austin community.

The church chose Cielo from among 40 private developers that expressed interest in the property. The church requested proposals in 2015 from private developers interested in a partnership to build the national archives facility and a mixed-use project. As part of its search, the church developed a website called Block 87.

“Years of thoughtful planning have led to this remarkable partnership to achieve the Episcopal Church’s goal of a permanent research facility for its historical archives,” said Mark Duffy, director of the archives. “We are excited by this next step for the archives in setting down deeper roots in the Austin community, where church life, education, research, and cultural engagement are valued and affirmed as gifts.”

“We wanted a partner who knew Austin and was trusted by the community,” said the Rev. Canon Lang Lowrey III of Atlanta, who represented the church in its search for a development partner. “Cielo is an Austin-based company led by people who really care about making the city a better place. This, combined with their vision and ideas for the property, made Cielo our top choice.”

“Cielo is honored to be selected by the Episcopal Church,” said founding partner Bobby Dillard. “We understand the importance of this project to the Church and its members, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to bring even more positive change to the northeast area of downtown Austin where many exciting things are already happening.”

Dillard said the company is in the early stages of designing the mixed-use project, but the concepts are preliminary. Financial details were not released.

The Archives of the Episcopal Church is the official repository of the Episcopal Church, including the General Convention, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, Episcopal Church organizations, and personal papers of church leaders. The archives’ mission is to honor the community’s diversity, educate members for mission, and communicate the faith for future ministry.

Cielo is a privately owned commercial real estate investment and development firm that specializes in redeveloping and repositioning of underutilized properties with strong potential for value enhancement. Founded in 2010, the company has acquired or developed more than 1.3 million square feet of commercial real estate assets in Texas, including eight retail and office buildings in Austin’s urban core, where the company is developing an additional 500,000 square feet of office, retail, and residential projects.

Image: Block 87


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