The Other Seaholm Project

The re-utilization of downtown Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant will happen.  When?  Not soon.  Why?  No $$$.  No surprise.

However, at Wednesday evening’s Parks Commission meeting, CM Chris Riley shared the opportunity to adapt the Seaholm intake structure (which sits on the lake) into something usable and complimentary to the trail.


An ordinance passed in 1985 required facilities such as this, owned by the city, immediately become park land upon termination or cessation of their existing uses.  Hence… PARD controls these buildings.

Furthermore, the 1987 Town Lake Park Comprehensive Plan states:  “…the building south of W. First Street that houses the cooling water intake for the power plant is ideally situated for conversion to lakeside dining.”  It goes on to suggest: “A water taxi stop will give additional access.”

OK, this is getting interesting, right?

PARD is strapped for cash, and PARD director Sarah Hensley is a progressive force.  There is reason to be optimistic that something can happen here, and we’re not going to have to wait 10 years to see it realized.

According to CM Riley, the use should be contextual, and specifically cater to the myriad people using the trail.  I understood this as concessionaires and open seating, rather than a proper restaurant as might be inferred from the plan.  This makes sense, considering there is little/no room for additional parking here.  Not a bad thing, IMO.

How can you help?  Keep the discussion moving, and share the idea with your friends.  Send a note to city council that you want to see these buildings put to public use.



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. It would be great to have something like Mozart’s there along the lake front. Two floors of outdoor decking with seating. A cafe like place with coffee/tea/juice bar, desserts and maybe sandwich/salads. You could meet there before and after running/walking the trail. I agree with Dave’s post above…access across the street from Seaholm will be important for this to work well.

  2. I second the market idea. How awesome would this be if it became the Austin Farmers Market. Open year round 7 days a week. It would be WONDERFUL and very forward thinking.

  3. They should turn the area right on the water into an Austin version of The Memorial Union Terrace at University of Wisconsin. They don’t have lots of parking there either, but it would be an easy walk or bike ride for tons of people.

  4. If Seaholm and Greenwater sites were already under construction a restaurant or banquet hall would be great. There would be lots of pedestrian traffic across the street, and plenty of parking. However, until they are completed there just won’t be any convenient parking in the area. One option to consider is relocating the rowing club (currently next to Waller Creek) into these structures. With the Waller Creek Tunnel project, they have to relocate anyway.

  5. Joshua McKee says

    Why not a public market like Pikes Place? I’ve spent a lot of time in Seattle and this looks like something that might be converted and bring some real, long-term, and sustainable vibrancy to the area. Pikes Place Market has created compaines like Starbucks and is a great focal point for downtown Seattle. Something that Downtown Austin lacks. IMHO.

  6. I don’t think a restaurant will work. It will take a lot of money to renovate. Most of the trail users are there for exercise and won’t want to stop. I never carry money/plastic on my outings. There may be some lunch business, from those within walking distance. Not that I have any better, money making, ideas, but I don’t see viability.

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