downtown

Austin
2:46 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Map: Multiple Road Closures This Weekend

View May 5th/May 6th Road Closures in a larger map

If it’s a weekend in Austin, there must be some special events. And special events mean road closures. Five big events are happening this weekend, and KUT News has mapped the closures above. Here’s more on what’s happening:

  • Chuy’s Hot to Trot 5K and Kid-K: Chuy’s Arbor Trails location is sponsoring a 5K run Saturday, May 5. The Kid-K is approximately a half-mile and everyone receives a medal as they cross the line. Online registration for the event is closed, but in-person registration is available Friday until 8 p.m. and Saturday beginning at 6:30 a.m.
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Downtown
4:00 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Making the Pitch for Waller Creek

A portion of existing Waller Creek development, near Sixth Street.
Photo courtesy Larry Miller, flickr.com/drmillerlg

Could Waller Creek – currently a flood-prone, trash-strewn downtown creek – ultimately stand along New York’s High Line Park and Chicago’s Millennium Park as a premier urban space?

That was one of the rosy assessments the Real Estate Council of Austin shared at a lunchtime talk about the future of the Waller Creek, and its potential as a central riverwalk-style district.

Plans for redeveloping Waller Creek have lurched along with little success dating back to the 1970s. Things began falling into place in 2007, when the city and the county developed a financing agreement to pay for the tunnel that would create a steady flow, and preventing flooding.

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City Council
10:00 am
Thu April 26, 2012

City Council Preview: Coming Down Like Cats and Dogs (And That's Just the Animal Shelter)

City Hall is hosting a council meeting that should stretch well into the evening.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

At 142-items long, saying the Austin City Council faces a full agenda today is an understatement.

Today’s regular meeting is filled with a number of contentious and convoluted issues – certainly not the stuff incumbent council members up for re-election would prefer to address on the eve of early voting. Here's a roundup of three big items up today:

1. Speaking of Voting: Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would create a task force to study options on organizing the city into council districts. The task force would be made up of Austin voters. (Currently council seats are elected at-large.)  The proposal has garnered pushback from a citizens group, Autinites for Geographic Representation, which is collecting signatures to put their 10-1 district plan on the ballot.

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City Council
4:57 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

City Council Update: Tune in Next Time

Council punted on two items of interest today.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Several high-profile items were put on hold at today's Austin City Council meeting.

One of the items delayed was a resolution requiring additional permitting for outdoor amphitheaters, pushed to council’s next meeting. A decision on the sale of the former Green Water Treatment Plant site was also pushed forward, all the way to April 26. Council members seek to spend the postponement time improving the affordable housing options at the development.

But one ongoing saga drew to a close – almost. Council approved a total of 45 additional permits for Lone Star Cab and Austin Cab, a process that required three separate readings. That said, the ordinance won’t take effect in two months.

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City Council
9:59 am
Thu April 5, 2012

City Council Preview: Battle Over Downtown Affordability, Eyeing Amphitheaters, and Willie in Bronze

A model of a statue honoring The Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson.
Photo courtesy capitalareastatues.com

It’s been another busy week for the Austin City Council, with a Tuesday work session delving into geographic representation, and then another installment in its procession of Austin Energy rate discussions. But today council stares down a 93-item long agenda. We’ve culled a few highlights:

Don’t Bogart that Statue: Item nine on the agenda authorizes the acceptance of a seven-foot, bronze statue of Willie Nelson, to be placed nearby the staircase leading to the Austin City Limits studio. It seems a smart fit, as the city already honorarily christened the statue's home, Second Street, as Willie Nelson Boulevard.

Does Green Mean Go?: Item 10 would see the city signing off on plans to develop the site of the former Green Water Treatment Plant, a block east of City Hall. The city would sell the downtown plot to developer Trammell Crow for approximately $42 million; as KUT News previously wrote, Trammell Crow has proposed 826 apartments and 200 hotel rooms, plus retail, hospitality and office space.

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Austin
5:10 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Map: Texas Relays, Urban Music Festival and More Events Mean Street Closures

A full weekend in Austin creates several street closures.
Image courtesy City of Austin

The 85th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays have returned to Austin.

Track and field action at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium kicked off on Wednesday and stretches through Saturday. More than 6,000 athletes from high schools and colleges across the country will be competing.

The relays are accompanied by a host of other activities in town, meaning street closures and traffic delays.

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Arts and Culture
1:50 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Photos: See the Unveiling of the Tejano Monument

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A monument honoring the contributions of Spanish and Mexican pioneers in Texas history was unveiled on the south lawn of the Capitol this morning.

Officials including Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst took part in the ceremony, along with hundreds of citizens excited a monument honoring Texas' unsung forebearers had been installed on the Capitol grounds.

The Tejano Monument is comprised of  11  bronze, life-size sculptures created by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa.

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AM Update
7:55 am
Wed March 28, 2012

AM Update: Downtown Wayfinding Takes Off, 'Daily Texan' Trayvon Martin Cartoon, New Lifeworks Campus

The city is seeking input on draft wayfinding recommendations tonight.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Weigh In on Downtown Wayfinding

The City of Austin is hosting a community forum tonight on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding Program, asking residents to sound off on the “draft philosophy” of the plan.

What is wayfinding? It’s an effort to better direct commuters and visitors through downtown, pointing pedestrians and cyclists to the best travel paths, and drivers to parking spots. The city states:

Over the past few months, the Downtown Wayfinding Project team has analyzed existing conditions in and around Downtown Austin and interviewed stakeholders in the community to gain an understanding of how commuters, residents, visitors, and tourists move through downtown. From that, the team has drafted a philosophy for navigating Downtown Austin that will serve as a foundation for developing acomprehensivewayfinding system.

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Austin
3:12 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Colorado Street Down to One Lane While 'Great Streets' Project Starts

Similar to Second Street, walkways, roads and infrastructure are being improved on Colorado Street
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Travel down one-way Colorado Street will be restricted though the end of June, as the city readies $6 million worth of improvements.

Only one lane will be open between Third and Fifth Street, while the Colorado Street Reconstruction Project gets underway.

Approved by the Austin City Council in December, the initiative is part of the city’s Great Streets project, creating pedestrian-friendly streets similar to those on Second Street, seen above. 

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AM Update
9:36 am
Fri March 23, 2012

AM Update: Federal Drug, Money Laundering Charges for Sixth St. Club Owner

The owner of several Sixth Street bars is accused of operating a drug and money laundering syndicate
Photo courtesy flickr.com/ kevharb

Sweeping Drug Bust Targets Nightclub Owner, Family

Ten individuals connected to a downtown Austin club circuit were arrested yesterday on drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearms charges. 

Yassine Enterprises, which owns Pure, Spill, Kiss & Fly, Stack Burger Bar, Treasure Island, Hyde, Fuel, Malaia and Roial, is at the center of a coordinated effort between Austin police, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The investigation dates to 2007, and those taken into custody yesterday include Yassine Enterprises owner and President Hussein Ali "Mike" Yassine, his brothers Hadi Ali Yassine and Mohammed Ali Yassine, their assistant Marisse Marthe Ruales and six others.  Cocaine distribution and over $200,000 in money-laundered cash are two charges in the investigation, and authorities suspect the clubs involved were fronts for these and other illegal activities.

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Austin
3:15 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

The City's $42 Million Land Sale

Conceptual art from a 2008 presentation shows Second Street extended to Shoal Creek.
Image courtesy City of Austin

A $500 million development may bring new housing, retail and underground parking to the southwest quadrant of downtown Austin.

Today, the City Council was briefed on the sale of a plot of land facing Lady Bird Lake. The land is the former location of the Green Water Treatment Plant, bordered by Cesar Chavez and Third Street, San Antonio Street and Shoal Creek.

Austin’s first treatment plant, the City Council voted to demolish Green in 2006 to promote taxable development more compatible with downtown.  

Under the terms city staff presented today, the city would sell the plot to TC Austin Development, a subsidiary of development firm Trammell Crow, for $42.4 million.

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Austin
12:41 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Patio, Parking or 'Parklet?' Council Considers Urban Spot Conversions

A San Francisco parklet.
Photo courtesy sfplanning.org

Among the items on the Austin City Council’s work session this morning was a pilot program allowing Royal Blue Grocery to convert two parking spaces outside its doors on Congress Avenue into a patio.

Or is it more of a “parklet?”

“If you google ‘parklets,’ you’ll find a number of examples from around the country,” said council member Chris Riley.

Parklets are prevalent in San Francisco. The city’s Planning Department has loads of information online pertaining to completed parklets, resources for would-be parklet builders, and a FAQ about parklets.

But “that’s a somewhat different situation,” Riley noted.

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AM Update
8:45 am
Mon March 19, 2012

AM Update: Texas' Middling Corruption Grade, Sidewalk Cafe for Congress Ave., Flash Flood Warning

Texas doesn't make it easy to follow the money, according to a study on corruption safeguards.
Photo courtesy Andrew Magill, flickr.com/amagill

Texas Gets a Low Grade in Corruption Protection

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Austin
3:49 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Sixth Street Lane Closures This Afternoon

View Sixth Street Lane Closures in a larger map.

If traffic downtown wasn’t bad enough already: Three lanes are closed on Sixth Street, from Guadalupe to Nueces while the city makes emergency repairs. And the lanes won’t reopen until well after afternoon rush hour.  

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development
1:03 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

What to Do With Waller Creek?

Slated for redevelopment, Waller Creek is expected to transform from trashy to classy.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/baggis

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.  

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