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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.