Maybe this is unique to my peers in the real estate world, but how often do you hear the term “urban core” as it relates to Austin? Some people just say “Central” Austin, but to many that doesn’t imply South Austin, or East Austin. Generally, when I write about the urban core of Austin this is the area I’m referring to.
For some of you this might be too narrow, but I suspect most of you will accuse me of drawing too broadly. Notice that UT is excluded as UT is always referred to as UT. Arguably, it’s one of the most urban areas of Austin – most university settings are dense, walkable, and active – but in my opinion it doesn’t compare well to the other neighborhoods due to the narrow demographics.
Oltorf is still a boundary to the south. Lamar is no longer a boundary to the west. To the north, MLK is a natural border between UT and downtown. To the east I’ve chosen Pedernales, but I could be convinced to include Pleasant Valley.
More importantly, what does it mean to be inside Austin’s urban core? Well, generally this is how I see it…
1) you can expect to find mixed-use development
2) you can find remnants of Austin’s history
3) you can find urban infill projects
4) decent transit (a generous term for Austin)
5) You could walk to downtown
6) There are no malls
Of course you could find some of the above items miles from downtown, but as a bundle of characteristics I think they work pretty well. Austin’s “urban core” is a nebulous term that is as flexible as it is convenient. This map shows what would have not only been the core, but most of the city at the turn of the century. The boundary will likely grow as our city matures. Let me know what you think.