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.
Good point about sidewalks in neighborhoods. Older joods like TH and Clarksville were developed when the city didn’t fund sidewalks in resedential areas. The city would permit it on ROWs if the residents paid for the sidewalks themsleves, hence the hodge podge of them in these neighborhoods. Now we have the NAs who tend to do everything they can to discourage any cross thru traffic in their hoods, even foot traffic. The petty provincial and NIMBY nature of our NAs has prevented a lot of good development tjhat would benefit the community as a whole.
I dunno. I think the sidewalks are pretty ridiculous everywhere. Lamar and Congress are the only streets south of the river that have even remotely consistent sidewalks. The park running along Travis Heights boulevard is nice except that it deadends before Riverside.
That’s another reason I think the East Riverside area is poised to become a bigger part of the urban core. It’s already setup to walk, whereas the area between the river and Oltorf has very few sidewalks in the neighborhoods and the neighbors have traditionally been hostile to adding them.
I see between the river and Oltorf as being like the Montrose area of Houston. It will stay a nice vibrant place to live with lots of restaurants and shopping, but the actual urban development will be around it.
I think walkability is the key. Most people can walk or ride across this area pretty easily. The streetscapes are generally more dangerous to navigate once you get south of Oltorf or north of Hyde Park.
I’d include all of the UT area in the ‘urban core’. As long as you’re distinguishing it from downtown anyways; it’s close enough for a (long) walk and has most of the same other features. (areas west of downtown have quite poor transit access to downtown, by the way).
Well, I’m a big proponent of drawing “Central Austin” as all that bordered by 360, 183, and Slaughter Lane, so I may be a little closer to you in broadly defining Urban Core. But we’re a big city, and it’s getting kind of silly to insist that the Urban Core or Central Austin is a couple-dozen blocks square.
I like your definition, and I think very soon you’re going to see it push across east of IH-35/ south of the river. The riverside neighbourhood seems willing to accept density in a way that the South of Oltorf/West of IH-35 neighbourhoods are not. And especially if the light rail goes in, I think we could see much more of East Austin making up the Urban Core bypassing 78704.
It’s interesting too, because there is a massive amount of dense infill in the area south of 71 and north of Slaughter Lane. Also North Burnet/Domain Area, Mueller, and West Campus. It’s going to be interesting to see how these dense pockets eventually tie in with the more suburban neighborhoods separating them.
I think the people moving into these more “city”-eqsue neighborhoods are going to want to tie these little mini-cities together. It’s interesting that the light rail proposal already connects quite a few of these mini urban cores.