To the chagrin of environmentalists and taxing authorities alike, Austin has many concrete lots. Lots that used to have a structure on it but are now vacant. Like parking lots, vacant lots that have the appearance of being abandoned are one of the more invasive forms of urban blight. In San Francisco, CMG Landscape Architects have been found a nifty way to improve the visual landscape and help remove thermal hotspots. Inspired by the vegetation that begins to grow in the cracks and along the fringes of concrete, the “Crack Garden” (they really could have picked a better name) harnesses plant growth in harsh urban environments.
There is a lot on the corner of E 5th and San Jacinto, bound by chain link fence, that is the result of a fire years ago. The owner doesn’t even use it for parking. The owner should consider the social benefits of allowing a group to come in and manage a project like this until he is ready to develop the lot. The City of Austin should encourage and property owners should embrace grassroots and affordable improvements to the urban landscape. I imagine we would have plenty of volunteers ready to lend a hand.
jude galligan says
For a while there was a discussion between the GSA and APF about the demolished Intel site. The GSA was willing to let APF use the land as long as they paid for the insurance policy. I think it’s off the table as the Federal Courthouse is planning to break ground within the next 9-12 months.
Justin Thomas says
The one problem of allowing a neighborhood to use your abandoned lot is that if the neighboorhood does develop it into a park, then they feel that they are part owners of the lot. And if it becomes part of the fabric of the community (like a place where kids go to play or something), then when you finally do want to sell or develop the site, you run the risk of upsetting the neighborhood. And upset neighbors might protest any change, or make demands of land owners about what needs to be in the project. It also makes it harder to sell or find partners for the project. It’s not the exact same situation, but look what happened at Barton Place and the animosity that was involved with developing that.
Also their is issues of liability involved too. If something happens on your land because you opened it to the public, who is liable? There are really a lot of issues there that the city would need to address before this could happen. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see it happen. But it isn’t as easy as just letting people into your lot.
Peter Smith says
our local group is working on a similar situation — we’re just trying to clean up some vacant property, for now.