Austin TOD’s Heating Up

December 3, 2013 by Kate Harrington

Much was made of transit oriented development around Capital Metro’s RedLine train after voters approved the 32-mile line, but for several years growth was sluggish at the Metrorail stops. Now, with the economy in steady recovery and a train that has been adding ridership, things are starting to heat up at Austin’s transit oriented developments.

In October of this year, Capital Metro released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the redevelopment of Plaza Saltillo in East Austin. That area is already seeing a lot of activity in the form of the vertical-mixed use project Corazon, which will bring residential units and retail to East 5th and 6th Streets. Capital Metro plans to develop the 11-acre area with more high-density and transit-friendly mixed-use development.

At the Highland Station, work is currently underway to transform a defunct and under-utilized mall into a new campus for Austin Community College. Phase one, scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, will include math and science labs, a library, and instructional spaces. Phase two will include a regional workforce research and development center, professional incubator space, and a conference center among other features.

The Project Connect team has also selected a Highland to East Riverside route for the next phase of Austin transit. While voters will have to approve that, it could bring more transit in the form of rail, streetcar or bus to the Highland area.

The MLK Station has seen a huge amount of transit oriented development. According to a 2012 Austin Business Journal article, Cap Metro “estimates that more than $47.7 million in new development has gone up at or around the MLK station, including the 64-unit Chestnut Commons; the PeopleFund building; the $25 million, 150-unit M Station & Open Door Pre-school; Redeemer Presbyterian Education Center; and new homes on Clifford Street. Opened by Foundation Communities last year, M Station, which provides low-income housing and services for its residents, is seen as a catalyst for the TOD.”

Rendering of 2900 Manor Road by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

Since that article’s publication, even more has been happening at the MLK Station. Among the newer developments, 2900 Manor Road (“Elan East”) is taking shape. That vertical-mixed use development will include 250 apartment units and ground floor retail. It will also encompass the next segment of the “Rails with Trails” bicycle and pedestrian route connecting all rail stops along the MetroRail transit line. The project was designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and Meeks + Partners, with BIG RED DOG as the civil engineer.

Also at the MLK Station, Sustainable Food Center has recently opened its new headquarters and nonprofit Creative Action has plans for a new building on a site adjacent to Sustainable Food Center’s.

We will keep bringing updates as transit oriented development in Austin moves forward.

( 475 / 2 )



Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.