Austin, TX considers plan to improve downtown with better parks, housing and transportation choices

Austin, Texas, has ambitious goals to make the city’s downtown more affordable to live in and a better place for businesses.

Planners in the city have spent the past four years compiling a master plan for development, to address existing challenges and to plan for growth over the next 25 years. The resulting Downtown Austin Plan, due to go before the city council this week, recommends a number of smart growth strategies for the city, including: improving downtown parks, adding lower-priced housing, preserving historic buildings, making zoning changes that would encourage a greater mix of uses and creating an economic development group to help guide growth in the city’s center.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, city planners have held more than 70 public meetings over the past four years to gather feedback that has informed their recommendations. The new plan establishes action priorities for the next 10 years and the decades beyond. It recommends steps to help downtown become even more economically vibrant, livable, walkable, mobile, inclusive, diverse, and culturally alive – while preserving the city’s unique, authentic character. The Downtown Austin Plan lays out an ambitious vision as well as practical steps to making that vision a reality, and serves as a blueprint for economic and environmental sustainability.

In all, the plan intends to make Austin a vibrant, robust place in time for the city’s bicentennial in 2039. To Austin residents and their planners, that means a dense and livable pattern of development that supports a vibrant day and nighttime environment; an interconnected pattern of streets, parks and public spaces that instill a unique sense of place and community; a multi-modal transportation system that is convenient, sustainable, affordable and a viable alternative to the automobile; and a beloved fabric of historic places, buildings and landscapes that celebrate the unique journey Austin has taken over the past 200 years.

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Image from the Downtown Austin Plan summary, downloadable here (PDF).