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At last night’s Downtown Commission, the commissioners heard from representatives of Rainey Street’s high-rise HOA boards. The most salient concerns were: 1) pedestrian safety (there’s no sidewalks), 2) outdoor music venue permits (compatibility), and 3) parking (there’s not much) in the burgeoning Rainey Street District.
In seven years, the city has generated nearly a quarter-BILLION dollars in tax basis through the upzoning of Rainey Street. Andre Suissa with American Realty Corp helped me assemble some interesting data.
Rainey Street Facts:
Number of Residential High Rises = 5
Number of Residential High Rise Doors = 857
Total Value of Residential High Rise (aka. ‘condos’) Tax Base = $238,586,516 (!!!)
Total Value of Other Privately Owned Property = $56,831,501
Total Value of City Owned Property = $70,111,541
Total Tax Base of Rainey Street District = $365,529,558
The most recent draft of the Downtown Austin Plan(released yesterday) devotes two pages to priority uses for the district. While it is brief, the message is clear and on-the-money. Rainey Street is not one of downtown’s two entertainment districts. Two highlights of the DAP as it pertains to RSD: 1) Encourage new residential uses that can complement the existing, quiet neighborhood character. 2) Limit the number of cocktail uses allowed.
I’ve been devoting a lot of blog space to RSD, and there’s good reason: No other area in Austin parallels Rainey Street’s activity, specifically the type of growth we’re observing. It’s the wild west with big CBD zoning guns, feral cats, no plan, and few laws in place to keep things orderly.
Lax parking requirements for bars in CBD are precisely why you are seeing a surge in bars in RSD over other commercial uses. [The same is true for “bar creep” we’re seeing on Congress Ave] . There was a lengthy discussion on the DC about replacing parking from the west side of Rainey Street with a pedestrian/bike safety zone. Currently, arriving and departing customers are literally forced to walk in the middle of the street where it is a foregone conclusion that someone is going to get hurt. Seems like a pedestrian/bicycle/handicap refuge is good idea.
I live in Rainey Street District. After development of The Legacy. Street parking was already bad. The Legacy i suspect charges parking for residents and both Legacy and Milagro probably dont provide enough parking for their residents and guest. Since parking is free on the street, many park on Eastside Drive and Cummings. I live off Eastside Drive and Cummings and front the lake and park. I am very frustrated that the cars are parking in front of my condo, obstructing my views of the lake. When I purchased my unit, this was not an issue. It is definitely hurting my ability to enjoy my home and the value of my property and the city should protect my views and my property value.
With the opening of the bars, now I get to view drunk people park in front of my windows on Eastside drive because the overflow of parking has pushed cars down Eastside Drive. Taking out parking on one side of the Rainey Street is ridiculous. That would just push more cars down and around the rest of the neighborhood. Why should my views be obstructed as a result of greedy bar owners and highrises that dont provide enough parking for their patrons and guests?
Also to note, Eastside drive gets clogged with cars parking on both sides of a blind curve. When car park on both sides of the street only one car can pass at a time in one direction. I see near head on collisions every night especially on thursdays through saturdays. There should probably not be any parking allowed around the curve to begin with. The City and especially the bar owners/Condo/Rental Towers should be obligated to provide adequate parking for their residents, guests, and patrons.
Hope the residents of the neighborhood will start to speakout about these issues and protect the quality of life for the existing residents. I am not anti business or development, just make sure it doesnt harm others in the process.
Where do people park when you remove public parking from Rainey Street? Why can’t sidewalks be built on the city’s easement on the property alongside the roadway, like it does throughout the city?
Jude Galligan says
right now, the downtown commission is only considering removing parking from one side of the street. that’s estimated to be about 60 spaces. there will still be parking on the other side of the street. also, there was a motion to allow – only temporarily – a variance from the convention center overlay to let empty rainey street lots to host parking. also, you have a giant parking lot on the north end. and at the macc. and along east avenue.
the answer to your question seems simple: sidewalks affect the width of the street and cost money to install. the intent was private development would pay for them. a bar operator will most certainly not [want] to pay for them. now RSD is in purgatory and it will be interesting to see how the stakeholders and city get out of it.
Jude, thanks for the thorough research. What is your view on if and when the DAP’s “Limit the number of cocktail uses allowed” line item will be enforced in the area?
Jude Galligan says
The DAP is a policy document that would go to city staff to figure out how to write the ordinances accordingly. the DAP is requesting conditional use for all bars outside of the designated entertainment districts. the DAA and DANA are both supporters of this initiative. that’s how i see this impacting the RSD. the intent is to contain the bars from the burgeoning residential areas.
The DAP still has nine commissions and at least one town hall before it gets back to city council. expect 6-12 months before any (if any) rules could be enforced.