It was the Downtown Austin Convention Center Overlay combined with a down market and CBD zoning that created a perfect environment for the bungalow-to-bar renovation boom on Rainey Street. Now, to spur new infrastructure and a better mix of retail uses, allowing surface level parking in Rainey Street neighborhood is worthy of reexamination.
Some of my highly informed friends in downtown Austin, whose opinions I greatly respect, will disagree with me. And, in general, I would discourage new downtown surface level parking in most circumstances. Short of incentives to develop structured shared parking [underground!], we need to take a pragmatic look at how to deal with the Rainey Street neighborhood in the short-run.