South Central Waterfront Vision Takes Shape (RENDERINGS)

April 13, 2016 by Kate Harrington

Councilmembers got a preview of what might be included in the City’s South Central Waterfront Initiative master plan this week, including recommendations for dense, mixed-use development, expanded open and green space, and an elevated trail over Bouldin Creek.

For the last few years, the City has been working on the South Central Waterfront Initiative, a plan to shape an area just south of downtown that spans 118 acres and is bordered by Lady Bird Lake on the north, South First Street on the west, and Bouldin Creek on the south and east sides.


On April 5, city planner Alan Holt showed Councilmembers what’s included in the latest plan for the area. Council will see and vote on a final master plan in June.

Through the 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.


If Council approves the master plan, the city would then have a set of defined goals for the area – which include connectivity and affordable housing – that would guide development.

The area is currently home to the Austin American-Statesman property, which is facing redevelopment, the Hyatt Hotel, and more than 30 other private properties. City planner Alan Holt told Councilmembers that if the City does nothing, the area will get about $1.2 billion in development over the next 15 years. Doing nothing will also mean no improved open space, improved connectivity, or affordable housing, as well as continued piecemeal development, Holt said.

South Central Waterfront Austin Statesman Bat Theater
A “Bat Theater” is envisioned as part of the redevelopment of the Statesman site. (City of Austin)

The current plan suggests much more development – more than 8 million square feet, compared with the current 3.2 million square feet of office, residential, hotel, and other development – and envisions partnerships with landowners to achieve parkland and open space in addition to dense development.

The “big domino,” according to Holt’s presentation, is the Statesman site, which he said could hold up to 2 million square feet of development, as well as ample amounts of public space.

To finance public improvements in the South Central area, the City is exploring a tax increment finance district and public-private partnerships.

BuildingATX will continue to monitor this initiative, so be sure to check back for all of the latest updates!


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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.