Each day this week I am serving up one item, with non-politically correct candor, that Downtown Austin needs to become a model of re-urbanization, as I see it.
Politicians love to talk, form task forces, and spend time doing everything except for making decisions as they are needed. So, this is an appeal to Downtown Austin stakeholders that know how to get things done: the residents, developers, retailers, and land owners.
Improved landmark protection, design standards, and enforcement
This is an average landmarked building on East Sixth Street. Here is another – note the beautiful brick archwork accented by a plywood sign! The building owners, tenants, and the city should be embarrassed. So much of Austin’s history exists in those buildings. Any building that has a landmark plaque should be respected and preserved.
The city may say “we don’t regulate ugly”. They should. The city must better leverage the Historical Landmark Commission and Heritage Society to protect the facades, awnings, and cleanliness of our historic buildings.. Unless the city begins to affect positive change, we will continue to see the warehouse district disappear and East Sixth Street deteriorate. It appears that voluntary compliance by landlords to maintain an expected (or expressed) standard doesn’t work and the city must begin to enforce regulations.
BTW, the owners of landmarked buildings get significant tax breaks.