Pfluger Bridge Extension

Elliot at Austin On Two Wheels shares with us that construction has begun on the Pfluger Bridge Extension.  This might not sound like “big” news, but we’re very excited by the potential for an improved pedestrian experience on the north side of Cesar Chavez.  The retail space under Gables Park Plaza should complement the foot traffic nicely.

More info at http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/publicworks/pflugerbridge_design.htm

Austin Parks Foundation Gets Big Boost From Downtown Developer

View from Spring condos #3802, 3bd/3ba

On March 3rd the developers of Spring Condos, a new downtown residential tower, will announce a $50,000 contribution to the Austin Parks Foundation. The contribution is based on a formula of $500 for each new Spring resident, and will target needed public improvements to the lower Shoal Creek Trail, which have been called for since the 1990s. When all the units at Spring are sold, the total contribution will top $100,000.

The developers will gather at the Shoal Creek pedestrian bridge to make the announcement with Mayor Lee Leffingwell, City Councilmember Chris Riley and numerous parks and downtown advocates. The Shoal Creek pedestrian bridge is one block west of 3rd and Nueces. The Spring residential tower will provide the visual backdrop.

The developers of Spring­–Diana Zuniga, Perry Lorenz, Larry Warshaw, and the late Hon. Robert Barnstone–set a standard for providing community benefits for downtown development during their zoning case several years ago. This led to a string of other developers offering similar benefits, leading to millions of dollars in pledges and contributions for parks and trails, new sidewalks, and affordable housing.

WHO: Mayor Lee Leffingwell, City Councilmember Chris Riley, Spring developers, Charlie McCabe of the Austin Parks Foundation, and representatives of the Trail Foundation, Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Metro Trails & Greenways, and Original Austin Neighborhood Assn.

WHAT: Announcement of a $50,000 contribution to the Austin Parks Foundation for improvements to the Shoal Creek Trail.

WHERE: Shoal Creek pedestrian bridge, one block west of 3rd and Nueces. Spring residential tower will provide the visual backdrop.

WHEN: Noon Wednesday, March 3rd

Downtown Austin Parks Becoming Enjoyable!

What’s going on here?  It looks like normal everyday Austinites are sitting, relaxing, enjoying a coffee at Republic Square Park in downtown Austin.  Let’s hope this is a sign that our tax- and privately-funded parks will cease to be the exclusive domain of vagrancy.

Republic Square Park Improvements

Phase 1 improvements to Republic Square should be complete before the new year

One of downtown Austin’s most cherished parks is Republic Square, located between 4th and 5th streets, just west of the Plaza Lofts.  The park has been under construction, recently getting a much needed face lift.  Charlie McCabe, director of the Austin Parks Foundation, visited with DANA yesterday to discuss the progress of the park’s improvements, and to share a bit of history.

Did you know this is where Edwin Waller, the first Mayor of Austin and the namesake of Waller Creek, in 1839 held the original land auction for Austin’s downtown blocks?

From Austin Parks Foundation

“…city lots were auctioned under the shade of the live oak trees on what is now called Republic Square. A small grove of live oaks – known as the Auction Oaks – survive at the southwest corner of the square today.”

The focal point of the park is a 300 year old oak tree.  Considering this was a parking lot for decades, with asphalt up to the tree, it’s astonishing these trees have survived so long.  The new design by TBG Partners gives the tree breathing space with a raised ipe wood deck built around the tree.

Other changes to the park include leveling the berms – the raised artificial grass hills – which limited visibility into the park.  Republic Square will actually grow by 17′ to the west, as San Antonio St becomes a promenade in front of the stairs to the still-under-construction Federal Courthouse.  Beginning in January, when the phase one improvements are complete, the Austin Farmers Market will relocated into the park.

The Austin Parks Foundation works diligently to raise money for Austin parks.  The $450,000 improvement budget comes from the Austin City Limits music festival, Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, Downtown Austin Alliance, General Services Administration, Gables Apartments, and others.