development
1:03 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

What to Do With Waller Creek?

The future of Waller Creek – if not downtown in general – is being drafted in a design competition.

Waller Creek, winding through the Eastern portion of downtown Austin, has received sporadic attention and investment over the years. The creek is prone to flooding during heavy rains, which has occasionally claimed the lives of homeless citizens sleeping along its sparsely-traveled banks.

Efforts to address Waller Creek received a boost in in 2006, when the city partnered with the county to fund a tunneling project. Currently underway in Waterloo Park, the tunnel will create a steady flow in the creek and pull nearby land out of the floodplain. But while engineering and construction of the tunnel continues, the city is facilitating a design competition to determine the function and aesthetics of the downtown areas along the creek.  

The Waller Creek Conservancy is partnering with the city to oversee the competition. It’s a three step process, design competition manager Don Stastny told the council.

Stage One was an initial step, “looking for portfolios from designers trying to establish the level of design quality that we’re looking for throughout the process,” Stastny said. The call received 31 submissions.

The project is currently in its Stage Two. The initial respondents have been whittled down to nine “couples,” each with a lead landscape architect and a lead design architect. Those nine teams will then be whittled down to four, in an announcement on April 16.

Stage Three begins with a two day briefing on May 15 and 16. Once the final four make their presentations, a winner will be selected in October.

As KUT News reported last year, the Waller Creek tunneling project will drastically transform the area: “When it’s all said and done, 28 acres of land downtown will have been ‘removed’ from the 100 year flood plain. Once that flood risk is reduced, it will pave the way for new development along the Waller Creek corridor.”

Nearly $60 million worth of Waller Creek investments have been pitched for inclusion in the city’s November bond election.

You can view yesterday’s presentation here.