South Central Waterfront Plan Moves Forward

January 23, 2014 by Kate Harrington

In August 2013, City Council passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive plan that would help shape growth and development along the 97-acre area known as the South Central Waterfront. Now the city is starting the process of developing the plan that will aim to integrate an economic and market analysis, district-wide management, green infrastructure, and transportation.

A free public lecture series kicked off last week, one of several events designed to get the public involved in the project.

The area designated as the South Central Waterfront (SCW) runs along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake across from downtown, and is bounded by South First Street on the West and by Blunn Creek on the East. East Riverside Drive creates the Southern boundary, and Congress Avenue runs though the center of the area.


Two planning efforts, a study by the Sustainable Design Assessment Team and a scenario planning report done as part of the Sustainable Places Project, led city council to call for the South Central Waterfront Plan.

According to city documents,The SCW is at a tipping point; market forces are intensifying and redevelopment is imminent. In fact, redevelopment is already underway. Without a cohesive district-wide vision, the best Austin can hope for in this crucial area is a collection of development projects that have stand-alone merit, but will likely have the following limitations for the area as a whole.”

The goal of the plan, according to the City, is to create a vision and framework for future growth in that area, ensuring public and private redevelopment that will enhance public access to the waterfront, walkability, an integrated district identity for the area, an increase in market and affordable housing, and a green infrastructure system.


“With the Plan, the SCW can become a model for how a district-wide green infrastructure system can use innovative engineering and quality urban design to provide environmental benefit as well as an interconnected network of public spaces: including streets, lakeside trails, and parks,” the City’s website says. “A district-wide plan can also leverage public and private investments for maximum impact, as well as create possibilities for funding other community benefits, such as expansion of public green spaces and affordable housing. A transformed SCW district will not only become a great new neighborhood in the central city and a destination in itself, but will serve as an iconic gateway to the downtown.”

What kind of development would you like to see in the South Central Waterfront district? Leave your comments below.

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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.