A Rich History
Highland was most recently the location of Highland Mall, which helped cement Austin’s reputation as a modern American city when it was built on the site in 1971. The mall was a key aspect of life in Austin until the early 2000s, when ownership issues and changing retail trends led to the mall’s gradual decline.
Before the mall, the Highland site had a long history as a place of education and community. In the early 1900s, it housed the St. John’s Orphan Home, an important school for African American children. The surrounding farmland hosted annual gatherings of the St. John Regular Baptist Association, whose members came in wagons and on horseback to support the school. Today, this legacy is celebrated in the name of Highland’s largest and most significant park, the St. John’s Encampment Commons.
Click through the following milestones to get a deeper sense of Highland’s rich history.
A Place for Community
The St. John Regular Baptist Association purchased 300+ acres in North Austin on which to build an orphanage and education buildings, host gatherings and farm the land.
The 1971 grand opening of Highland Mall, represented the first enclosed shopping center in Central Texas. The Mall became a source of civic pride, a modern amenity that for decades was a gathering place for the community.
Against new competition and changing shopping trends, Highland Mall struggled. It was named one of "America’s Most Endangered Malls” by U.S. News & World Report in 2009.
A New Life for Highland
RedLeaf and Austin Community College partner to acquire Highland Mall and devise a master plan to transform the entire site.
Phase 1 of ACC Highland Opens
A former department store is converted to high tech education space, featuring the ACCelerator.
Living at Highland kicked off with the delivery of 309 class-A apartments. The property today is known as Ella Parkside.
Austin PBS unveiled its plan to relocate to Highland, in partnership with ACC, bringing with it, media creation as well as public meeting and performance spaces.
The FiveTwo is completed, brining additional apartment housing, along with 25,000 sf of retail space at Highland’s front door.
Named for civic leader Jacob Fontaine, Fontaine Plaza opened to the public as Highland once again becomes a modern amenity and a gathering space for the entire community.
Permitting and Development Center
Austin’s permitting and development services are brought under one roof in a 251,000 sf modern office delivered by RedLeaf and Ryan Companies.