Becoming a model urban neighborhood: what does Downtown Austin need?

Becoming a model urban neighborhood: what does Downtown Austin need?

Each day this week I am serving up one item, with non-politically correct candor, that Downtown Austin needs to become a model of re-urbanization, as I see it.

Politicians love to talk, form task forces, and spend time doing everything except for making decisions as they are needed.  So, this is an appeal to Downtown Austin stakeholders that know how to get things done:  the residents, developers, retailers, and land owners.

I want a Super Target on Congress Ave.

Yes, it’s known as a big box store and is identified with sprawl.  It doesn’t need to be that way! Retailers like H-E-B and WalMart are sophisticated enough to design stores that work as urban infill or adaptive reuse projects.  A large destination store that has groceries and products that people need [and can afford] on a regular basis would be amazingly successful.

Remember that rendering produced by Stratus for the Seaholm redevelopment which depicted a multi-story H-E-B?  That was inspired.

Downtown Austin landlords with retail space should begin to focus less on luxury goods and more on “liveability” goods.  I don’t want to see more boutiques.  I don’t want to see more salons.  I don’t want to see more bars/lounges.  These are all fine, except they serve a very limited audience.  The next wave of successful retail in Downtown Austin will be for products that people need and can afford to purchase.

Stratus's rendering for HEB at Seaholm

Stratus's rendering for HEB at Seaholm

About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.


  1. I couldn’t agree more, Jude!!

  2. The Green Water Treatment Plant site would be prime for an UrbanTarget. The land is there and it would become an anchor for the “fish out of water” 2nd Street District.

  3. If the City of Austin really wants to make downtown living affordable this is the step in the right direction.

  4. We go to CVS now quite often, and it’s 6 blocks away and really not that great. If we had a Target downtown it would be our 2nd home!

  5. Tim, I don’t know anybody whose opinion I trust who can seriously state that Westlake High is a markedly better academic experience than the best you can get at AISD (Austin High, in my opinion). A lot of the extra money they spend at Westlake is on athletics and the like.

  6. The historical place for ‘big boxes’ was downtown – think of Macy’s in New York and elsewhere; Harrod’s in London; etc.

    Austin has gone the exact opposite direction with our stupid ordinance forcing Big Boxes to frontage roads. I want a big HEB or Target downtown, too (Target would be the ideal, as they’ve shown some willingness to build in a more urban style than the other realistic candidates).

  7. I think you’re on the right track. What we need is affordability, and a low-end department store is a component of that. Hopefully, when the economy comes back the housing market will move away from the super-luxe trend of the past few years and back towards building simple, few-frills housing.


  8. I want great urban schools. I think we should copy Eanes’ model of taking the money that parents would be using to send their kids to private school and using it to hire more teachers. I think we need this to truly have a vibrant urban core.

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