City of Austin Rolls Out Plan to Boost Urban Density
By Ryland Barton
For Reporting Texas and KUT News
The City of Austin’s Planning Commission presents its goals for downtown Austin on April 26 at City Hall. The Downtown Austin Plan, which has been in the works for the past four years, includes over 100 recommendations to increase downtown density over the next 10 years. Jim Robertson is director of the City of Austin’s Urban Design Program.
“Downtown is an area of the city that our community believes ought to be a dense area,” Robertson said. “Part of the reason for that is sustainability for one thing. Downtown living tends to be some of the most environmentally sustainable living.”
One recommendation would revitalize the Capitol complex area, currently dominated by concrete parking garages, in line with the City’s overall aim of increasing the number of people living downtown.
“The interests of the city are very much aligned with the interests of the state,” Robertson said. “Adding additional density to the Capitol complex, whether it be in the form of office buildings that are populated by workers who then go out and get lunch, or dinner and recreate, or shop downtown, is very consistent with our vision.”
Sam Carroll, a broker with Capital Downtown Realtors, says that making downtown denser might be problematic.
“Just to have a whole maze on Lady Bird Lake doesn’t really add to the overall aesthetics of downtown,” Carroll said. “As well as the current residents may not want their view spoiled with the new high-rise; it’ll just block their view.
The City estimates that improvements to the area would cost between $250 million and $350 million over the next ten years.