Archives for June 2012

Downtown Austin’s Defacto Financial District

Downtown Austin’s Defacto Financial District

The 600 block of W. 5th Street has strangely evolved to host a single use: drive through banks.

Yesterday’s Statesman article announcing Endeavor’s forthcoming development of IBC Bank Plaza left me chuckling, as I wondered about the market forces leading to this.

It’s quite odd. Unlike retail or entertainment districts, there are no obvious economies of agglomeration with several drive through banks near each other.  They don’t even share driveways.

This particular block of 5th Street has nice wide great-streets-style sidewalks, which the respective developers paid for.  And I grant you, the surface parking is neither attractive nor productive.  I’m not complaining about the new IBC Bank.  It’s just a curious situation.

Rocket Electrics Electric Bike Rental Discount Code – Exclusive for Downtown Austin Blog Readers

Rocket Electrics Electric Bike Rental Discount Code – Exclusive for Downtown Austin Blog Readers

I love a good deal. And more than that, I love SHARING a good deal.

Luckily for me, Rocket Electrics over on E. Riverside (just south of Downtown Austin, on the ground floor of the AMLI South Shore Apartments) is offering you lucky Downtown Austin Blog readers a fabulous discount on their Electric Bike rentals. The discount starts TODAY, and is good for a WHOPPING [Read more…]

Glee. (Indirectly) Making Downtown Austin a Little More Environmentally Friendly

Glee. (Indirectly) Making Downtown Austin a Little More Environmentally Friendly

Oh, Glee.  I  sometimes enjoy you, but often I am overcome with shame for watching you.  But, last week –  you actually accomplished something useful.  Because of you, Glee, I finally recycled my big ol’ bag o’ batteries.

Okay, let me explain. See, up until last week, I had been keeping this huge Ziploc bag stuffed with used up AA batteries under my kitchen sink.  I didn’t know where to take them and I always seemed to forget to Google a nearby location. So, the bag o’ batteries just kept getting bigger.

And then I started seeing this Glee PSA about recycling batteries.  Over. And over. And over again. [Read more…]

Pic Of The Week – Downtown Austin At Dusk

Pic Of The Week – Downtown Austin At Dusk

I spend so much time walking through downtown, I forget how pretty it is to look at from across the river. Hat tip to David Gottlieb!

austin congress ave bridge no bats

Downtown Austin's Congress Ave bridge by David Gottlieb

Wooldridge Square Park Is Getting A Facelift

Wooldridge Square Park Is Getting A Facelift

Wooldridge Square Park is closed for the next year, or so, as it receives improvements to the irrigation and landscaping.

Amidst a sea of bureaucratic bunk houses, a Malaise Era parking garage, a jail, and a drive-thru Bank of America, the park’s central gazebo and the close Austin History center can still conjure up memories of a shaded and serene sloped park hill.

Wooldridge Square was a part of the original plans for the City of Austin as laid out by Edwin Waller in 1839. It became a dedicated park in 1909 when then-Mayor Wooldridge cleared and drained the site for civic green space. The gazebo in the center of the park was added in 1910 and has a rich history of political speeches and gatherings for State, County and City officials.

The park is recently best known for hosting giant chess, and being the defacto setup for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which helps feed Austin’s homeless population.

A couple of months ago, I headed over to play giant chess in the evening.  Very enjoyable.  No safety concerns, personally, but it’s clear that vagrancy keeps the masses at a distance.

If Wooldridge’s challenges can be distilled into three buckets, below is how I would describe them:

1) no surrounding pedestrian-oriented uses (attraction)
2) vagrancy (perception of safety)
3) poor/no irrigation (placemaking, grass)

Within a year, the irrigation should be improved.  I understand that alternative placement or better coordination with MLF is being discussed. There’s a higher and better use for that parking garage and Bank of America, and those will eventually be replaced.

This is progress.