Downtown News & Rumor Roundup: More Height, Less Crime, Better Wayfinding

Downtown News & Rumor Roundup: More Height, Less Crime, Better Wayfinding

Downtown News & Rumor Roundup: New skyscraper planned?

As a sign of things to come, a zoning change was filed on the block surrounding the 56-story Austonian skyscraper last week seeking a change to allow for more density (read: taller).

According to the zoning request, the surface parking lot along with the land and building that house the Austin Children’s Museum, will be redeveloped as office/retail according to the ABJ.

You may recall, Austin-based World Class Capital Group bought the land in March. It’s too soon to tell whether there are any actual plans for the site, or if they are just seeking to make it sexier to resell. Or they could just be getting a last minute upzoning before the rules of the game change (see below).  Stay tuned.

Density bonus changes approved by council

City Council last week approved changes to the ways developers can build taller buildings in downtown and the process for getting the approval.

This is part of the approved Downtown Austin Plan and has been discussed ad nausea for years among downtowners, so I won’t say much.

But for casual readers, here’s the basic skinny:

Previously, buildings could get upzoned (like the lot by the Austonian is seeking to do) by getting Central Urban Redevelopment (CURE) zoning allowing them to build taller. Now, developers will be forced to pay into community benefit funds, such as parks and affordable housing, based on a formula in order to get approval for denser buildings.

Downtown violent crime at seven year low

According to a recent post on the Downtown Austin Alliance website, violent crime downtown dropped significantly in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first five months of 2013 are showing the lowest level of violent crime when compared to the same period for the prior six years.

This great news is the result of a lot of people all pulling in the same direction, including the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, and our city’s police officers.

Downtown Wayfinding: What’s new?

Good question and one I had hoped would be answered by this blog post on the Imagine Austin website.

Unfortunately, the blog post has zero information in it about the status of the downtown wayfinding program. After city staff presented to council in Nov. 2012, there program appears to have effectively been put on ice.  [UPDATE from City Staff: “Not put on ice.  We are near the end of Phase III, development of the Graphics Manual for all signs, maps, etc.”  thx, Michael Knox!]

City Council, meanwhile, just approved a partnership with the University of Texas for the university to install wayfinding on city streets around campus, but that is a university-led project. Even still, that’s definitely a move in the right direction and maybe will spur the city to get back on the saddle with their project.

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.

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