Austin’s South Central Waterfront Initiative Gets Federal Grant

October 12, 2014 by Kate Harrington

Austin’s South Central Waterfront Initiative, a plan that aims to guide public and private development on 97 acres of land just south of downtown, just got a big boost in the form of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant.

The “Greening America’s Capitals” grant was awarded to five cities this year, and in Austin comes in the form of federal technical help creating design options in the South Central Waterfront area, city officials say.

Through the South Central Waterfront Initiative, the city hopes to improve current design issues in the area like limited public green space and spotty public access, as well as making updates to the current car-oriented design and unfriendly streetscapes.

A new report published this month, the “South Central Waterfront Interim Vision Framework,” places high priority on recreating that 97-acre space with a pedestrian-friendly environment, open spaces, affordable housing, and enhanced connections to and along the waterfront.


“As the area undergoes inevitable changes, the South Central Waterfront can transform into a walkable, beautiful and environmentally sustainable new district,” Alan Holt, a Principal Planner with the City’s Planning and Development Review Department, said in a press release about the federal grant. “The EPA technical and design assistance will complement the City’s ongoing efforts to put a plan in place to make this potential a reality.”

The initiative complements other recent city-adopted policies that give pedestrians, cyclists, and others more access and priority when it comes to public spaces and streetscapes. The Complete Streets policy adopted earlier this year means the city will add features like bike lanes, sidewalks, and trees that will make city streets more accessible to a wider variety of users. And the Urban Trails Master Plan will create a city-wide network of urban trails protected from cars that will give pedestrians and cyclists more opportunities to move through the city.

What types of features would you like to see on the waterfront just south of Lady Bird Lake? Tell us in the comments section 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.