Archives for February 2009

Day four, 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.

ARCH and related social services should be moved away from Sixth Street while remaining in Downtown

This month we’ve read about two measures being discussed to cut down on crime in Downtown Austin: 1) installing cameras, 2) installing lights in front of Caritas.  These efforts will not work because they don’t address the real problem. The ARCH, Salvation Army, and Caritas are the hub for Downtown Austin’s increasingly frequent and violent crime.  The crime comes from drug dealers praying on the homeless and the mentally ill.  Prostitution lives around these places.  Drugs are used as a form of payment.  According to the police, Forty-two percent of all drug arrests in downtown happen within a block of these buildings.  That is an amazing statistic.

During a midnight to 3am observation tour for 6ixth Street Austin, myself and a few other Downtown stakeholders stopped and talked with homeless people outside of the ARCH.  Some were under the influence of something, but generally not hostile.  If anything, they were very chatty and candid about their problems, and the problems surrounding the ARCH.  Below are some of the more interesting things we were told.

  • Drug dealers arrive from other parts of town to sell to the mentally ill and homeless
  • The southeast corner of 7th and Trinity (Caritas) is a big drug corner
  • Crack house at 8th and Neches (pic)
  • Crack house on Neches btw 8th and 9th (pic)

Why on earth did they place the ARCH across from a major liquor store and a block from Austin’s biggest weekend party?  Downtown Austin stakeholders must work with the city to make a politically volatile decision: move the ARCH away from Sixth Street to significantly affect positive change.

Day three, 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 more local grocery stores like Royal Blue or Fresh Plus

Developers, do you want a successful building?  Then just give George Scariano space with free rent.  I’m only partially kidding.  This is a huge amenity.  Not just developers, but the hotels and convention center should be lobbying for this type of retail.  Fancy finish-out not required.  A successful Downtown neighborhood has multiple choices for purchase groceries on a daily basis.  The only thing that bugs me about Royal Blue is that both locations are on the wrong side of Congress for me to quickly get there.

Tim Finley has a place available at E. 5th @ Trinity – the large warehouse where Paradox used to be located.   Think of the convention and hotel traffic in addition to the residential business from 555, Brazos Lofts, Avenue Lofts, Sabine, and Railyard.  These are all located within a couple of blocks of 5th @ Trinity and combined include over 368 units not counting the Four Seasons!

360 condos: three units remain

Just received this.  $50k off remaining two bedrooms.

-Jude

Day two, 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 hardware store on Congress Ave.

Breed & Co is a hugely successful hardware store operating near UT.   A pedestrian neighborhood needs a proper hardware store.  Sometimes you just need some screws, spackle, or paint.  Currently, I need to get in my car and drive to Home Depot.  A better solution is to provide the existing 3,954 households with a local hardware store.

recognizing the importance of an urban hardward store

recognizing the importance of an urban hardward store

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