The Patagonia Welcome Wagon

Patagonia is a welcome addition to Downtown Austin

Patagonia is a welcome addition to Downtown Austin

This past weekend, Downtown Austin’s newest retailer, Patagonia, officially opened its doors.  Located at 316 Congress Ave (map), Patagonia is a milestone in the revitalization of Congress Ave by bringing 7,000 square feet of outdoor clothing that Austinites seem to love.  I make an effort to support businesses that make Downtown a better neighborhood.  So, even though you might be spending less this holiday season, you should consider making the effort to spend that money at local small businesses and businesses that are revitalizing downtown.

According to the Statesman article, the store has shower facilities and bike accommodations for employees, supporting alternative commuting strategies and healthier lifestyles.  Cool!

The DAA, and specifically Linda Asaf, need to be acknowledged here. They are working behind the scenes to help bring new retail, and new life, to Congress Ave.  I am encouraged by property owners beginning to see the light, and investing in long term leases with credit tenants.

Downtown Austin Parking + the most interesting presentation on parking in the history of the world.

Downtown Austin Parking = FAIL

Downtown Austin Parking = FAIL

The most interesting presentation about parking in the history of the world (pdf).

(Okay, this is about parking so it’s dry as your grandmothers turkey.  But, in the world of parking, this is a home run presentation.  I’ve heard from DANA board members that Patrick Siegman, the guy who wrote the presentation, is an amazing speaker on the topic of parking and new urbanism.)

I’ll help out… below are three major reforms that could be applied to Downtown Austin parking.

1. Charge fair-market prices for curb parking
2. Spend the resulting revenue to pay for neighborhood public improvements
3. Remove the requirements for off-street parking

Over the past 48 hours there’s been lots of discussion over at Austin Contrarian about parking issues. This is encouraging because sometimes I wonder if our citizens recognize the immense impact that parking guidelines have on the look and feel of our city.  Downtown Austin apartments, condos, and retail are putting more stress on the availability of [convenient] parking.  Parking has a causal relationship with keeping cars on the road, walkability, and overall neighborhood-ness.

In October I was fortunate to be included in a delegation of Austinites sent to Vancouver in order to learn about how they’ve managed rapid growth and become one of the most admired cities in the world. One of their council members, Gordon Price, delivered one of the most impassioned orations about smart urban planning.  He made one particular comment that struck me…

“Show me your parking ordinance, and I’ll show you what your city looks like!”

Personally, this was a revelation.  Will Austin City Council adopt new parking rules that will encourage use of mass transit and walkability?  I hope so.  The alternative is more cars, more roads, and more scorched earth strip malls.

My Saturday – A Day in the Life of an Urbanite

A Day in the Life of an Urbanite

A Day in the Life of an Urbanite

9:00 a.m. – Awaken to my view.  Make some french toast and a fruit cup.  Eat it, then out the door to the nearby gym, the Tower Health Spa connected to the 555.

12:00noon – Off to Whole Foods on 6th.  I take the trolley, or The ‘Dillo as it’s known.  I have a breakfast taco and a water, then I do a little grocery shopping.  Trolley back to my place.

1:30 p.m. – I walk from my place to Roar, which is on 5th across from Eddie V’s.  I’m getting a little glam in hair, a la a chunk of bright blonde in my bangs.  Rory is the bomb, and he does an awesome job.

3:00 p.m. – Come home to take a rest and get ready for my Saturday night.  My next door neighbor drops by a made-from-scratch pecan pie (the crust is made from scratch and everything!).  It is AWESOME having neighbors that are just a step or two away!

6:00 p.m.  – I’m on my way out to go walk to the movie theatre and have a couple of beers.  That’s right, I’m headed to The Alamo Drafthouse on 6th.

It was a great day, and it’s going to be an awesome night.

A (non-work) day in the life of an urbanite.  Pretty great.