Archives for November 2009

Not So Great Streets

Not So Great Streets

The phrase “great streets” gets a lot of lip service in downtown stakeholder circles.  This has been going on since 2000.  We’re all familiar with 2nd Street District, and I think we can generally agree that the City/AMLI knocked it out of the park with this one.  It’s a terrific pedestrian experience.

With the Great Streets Program available since 2000, not all buildings constructed since then have fully adopted the notion.  Two examples:

1) Hampton Inn

Sure, the New Orleans style terrace is charming, but if you’ve ever walked by the hotel you were almost certainly dodging valet podiums, bellhops, guests, and tiny bistro tables that are so crowded that nobody uses them.

2) Champions @ Courtyard Marriot

If you know this corner, you know there is a string of cabs parked along 4th street.  Here we see a hard fence forcing pedestrians towards the street, and creating an uninviting al-fresco experience for bar patrons.  The far end of this fence terminates into a round-a-bout entrance into the Courtyard.  A better alternative to activate this corner would be planters like we see at Annies, which would also provide an entrance to the the restaurant along 4th street.

photos courtesy of Mike McGill

Downtown Austin Open Houses

(Looking for this week’s open houses? You’ll find them here.)


Open houses in downtown Austin for Sunday, November 15th

The great thing about downtown Austin open houses is that you can generally walk from building to building. Take a stroll downtown now that summer is over and the temperature is cooler. If you’re into adaptive reuses of older buildings, checkout DAB’s list of downtown Austin lofts. Looking for FHA approved condos? We’ve got the info here.

This weekend you can browse at your own pace at the Austin City Lofts, The NokonahSpring, and the Austonian sales center.  While you’re here, checkout DAB’s gift suggestions found on 2nd Street.

1) 901 W 9th St #418, 1bd, 1ba + study, $320,000, 1-3pm [Urbanspace] map
2) 800 W 5th St #201, 2bd, 2ba, $649,900, 1-3pm [Urbanspace] map
3) 300 Bowie St, Spring sales center, model units, 1-5pm map website
4) 200 Congress Ave, Austonian sales center located at 300 W 6th, 12-5pm map website

Don’t see the properties you’re interested in? Ask a Realtor who lives and works in downtown Austin.

Waller Creek Meeting Notes

Waller Creek Meeting Notes


At last night’s WCCAC meeting:

1) We learned that the City is negotiating the purchase of three contiguous lots located along southbound frontage road and bounded by 4th and 5th Streets.  This area hosts the east bank of Waller Creek between 4th and 5th and is currently used as a surface parking lot.  The land acquisition will be purchased with funds from the Waller Creek Tunnel Project, and will likely become a temporary staging ground for the construction of the tunnel.  Ironically [to me at least] these lots are not on FEMA’s 100 year flood maps, and therefore wouldn’t directly benefit from the tunnel improvements designed to remove land from the 100 year flood plain. The lots are encumbered by Capitol View Corridors, though.  You can see the lots under “Kuykendall Addn”.

2) The WCCAC made an official recommendation to City Council that the Strategy 1 improvements identified by ROMA’s Waller Creek District Master Plan be included in the items for the 2010 Transportation Bond.  The bond is limited to issues of mobility, including pedestrian uses such as the conversion of Sabine Street into a promenade.

3) Perry Lorenz provided citizen communication that the 21c project is moving forward and the development team is flying to Austin from Louisville with updates in the first week of December.  In addition to getting a more comprehensive project status, we should receive a better idea of the amount and types of consideration the project is paying towards Waller Creek improvements adjacent to the property.

4) The I-35 Makeover project is going to be complete in 2010 and will be funded from the parking fees collected underneath I-35.  No word yet on improvements to the 4th Street overpass, but WCCAC requested to be included as a stakeholder should that discussion commence.

5) Matt Knifton of the Texas Rowing Center provided citizen communication about TRC’s bid for the boathouse.  Notably, last year TRC donated roughly $30,000 in community outreach in the form of education and classes for minority children and those with disabilities.  Matt estimated that as a PARD concessionaire since 1999, the TRC has returned over $400,000 to the city;moreover, throughout a 20 year lease of the new boathouse, there is potential to generate nearly $3MM in concession revenue for the city.  The TRC would have the opportunity to further increase their community outreach programs, making the lake more accessible to more Austinites.

In summary, it’s nice to see action and momentum!


Need Something To Do This Saturday (11/14/2009) in Downtown Austin? Go to FAMe

Need Something To Do This Saturday (11/14/2009) in Downtown Austin? Go to FAMe

9426_180351792952_180349822952_3687854_1247013_nFrom their marketing:

Overview: A merger of fashion, art, and music, the FAMe ’09 festival explores these disparate cultural identities through a chosen theme.

Mission: This year, the three expressive mediums will investigate texture as a unifying framework. The setting for this event is Malverde and comprises the first half of the festival. There will be different forms of art exhibited throughout the venue, orchestral music composed specifically for this event, and fashion elements designed to complement the surroundings. This first phase of the expo will last three hours. Following this production, the festival continues at Lamberts starting at 9 pm. This more conventional atmosphere will include a lineup of musical acts that utilize an orchestral approach to song making.
Products: FASHION, ART, and MUSIC!
For more info:

Tonight's WCCAC Agenda

This evening is our monthly meeting of the Waller Creek Citizens Advisory Committee (WCCAC).  I’m especially interested to get the updates on the I-35 makeover project.



The City Council Waller Creek Citizen Advisory Committee may go into a closed session under the Open Meetings Act, Section 551.071, of the Texas Government Code, to receive advice from legal counsel on any item on this agenda.

Call Meeting to Order

1. Approval of Minutes – (October 22, 2009)

2. Citizen Communication (3 minutes)

3. Waller Creek Master Plan Update – Discussion

Jim Robertson, COA

4. IH-35 Makeover Project – Discussion

Erica Leak, COA

5. WCCAC-Parks Board Joint Subcommittee – Discussion

Sara Hensley, COA

6. Waller Creek Tunnel Update – Discussion

Gary Jackson, COA

7. Competitive Design Process – Discussion

Jude Galligan, WCCAC

8. Waller Creek District surface improvements/2010 Transportation Bond Election

Discussion and possible action

Jeb Boyt, WCCAC

9. Future Agenda Items for December 3, 2009 Meeting

Discussion and Possible Action