City Talks Development for Lady Bird Lake
The City of Austin wants to know: What do you want our waterfront to look like in 20 years?
Starting tonight, planners are facilitating a three-day discussion on the future of Lady Bird Lake’s “south shore central” area – Congress Avenue, First Street and eastward, including sites like the Hyatt Regency and the Austin-American Statesman building. Talks kicked off this morning with boat tours of the area in question.
Alan Holt, a principal planner with the city, says this area is lacking in good infrastructure.
“Like it or not, [the area is] slated for some big changes because there are a lot of parking lots and development at the end of their shelf life,” Holt says.
To corral citizen comment, the American Institute of Architects’ Sustainable Design Assessment Team – a collection of specialists in riverfront planning, landscape architecture and green building – is hosting several open meetings today and Tuesday to discuss development plans.
Austin is one of seven cities nationwide to win a grant from the American Institute of Architects for design and technical assistance related to sustainable development. Holt says the city is getting about $100,000 in consulting fees for free.
After talking with the community and the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board, the team will present its recommendations Wednesday night at the Mexican American Cultural Center. Holt says the south shore area is going to be vital as Austin continues to grow.
“With Austin doubling in size every 25 years, south shore central will be an area that will undoubtedly be of keen interest to private development,” says Holt. “From the city side, we know that we have some big plans that will affect south shore central.”
Plans, he says, include potentially having an urban-rail line that crosses the river.
“[The city should] make that bridge connection more than just a functional object that gets a train across, but a real civic object that actually adds quality of life to south shore central,” Holt says.
The discussion gets underway tonight with an “Idea Exchange” at the Mexican American Cultural Center from 5:30-8 p.m. You can also comment online.
Check out a slideshow of photos from the waterfront, shot by KUT News intern Filipa Rodrigues, below.