The Sabine Street Promenade project — between Fourth St. and Seventh St. — has always been a rough jewel I’ve been waiting to see cut. The project will transform a parked-car-congested design dinosaur from the 1980s into a modern, landscaped, walk/cycle through-way.
I’ve been a strong advocate of the project from day one. Now, there are signals of progress behind the scenes.
Not only will the Sabine Street redevelopment be a great public space, but it will also create great connectivity along the Waller Creek redevelopment.
First approved back in 2011, the pace of urban progress is never a fast one, but we’ve finally got our first actual look at the layout between 4th and 6th Streets of the pedestrian/bikeway corridor.
It is still unclear when the redevelopment would take place, but the initial plan was sometime this year. It’s not uncommon for massive infrastructure projects to get delayed for one reason or another. Even still, those who spends time downtown, especially nearby residents at the 5 Fifty Five, Avenue Lofts, or The Sabine, should be excited to see it move from concept to an engineer’s plan.
Based on the road redevelopment plans, submitted by the City of Austin last month, it looks like the nuts and bolts of traffic flow remains unchanged from what was announced a few years ago.
Back in 2012, city officials were quoted in the newspaper saying 60 percent of the corridor would be devoted to bikeways, sidewalks, and trees. The corridor will still have on-street parking — which is not a surprise — but drastically less than now.
The Sabine Street redevelopment runs parallel to the Waller Creek Corridor, and adjacent to a portion called “The Narrows” which will be focused on outdoor socializing, rather than transportation. (Think San Antonio Riverwalk but less campy.)
In 2013, the City Council picked Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) as the lead consultant for the Sabine Street project, which makes sense given that MVVA is the lead designer for Waller Creek.
Personally, I’m hoping the promenade has some MVVA flare, versus coming out a cookie-cutter image of other redeveloped downtown Austin streets. (Don’t get me wrong, I love cookies even if they are cookie-cut. I’m just saying, MVVA bring a lot to the table).
Waller Creek is envisioned as a chain of parks in the heart of Downtown Austin. Sabine Street will connect an envisioned year-round event park to the north (Refuge) and a reinvigorated Palm Park to the south.
If you look at the architectural drawings below, you also notice the promenade is going to be enhanced by a good dose of trees, which are noted by the triangle symbols, and other shrub beds on the north side.
First Fred makes a very good point. The last remaining large pieces of underdeveloped land are all near 7th & Neches and will remain underdeveloped eyesores until this “challenge” is resolved.
I have a completely separate question however. Is there anything on the grand master plan that would create a pedestrian corridor thru UT and west campus to connect Waller Creek and Shoal Creek into a loop with Lady Bird Lake to the south, Waller and Shoal Creek to the East and West and UT to the north?? With the completion of the Boardwalk, the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is becoming a victim of its own success with very high congestion on the weekends! A second, primarily land based loop could help reduce the congestion on Austin’s greatest treasure! It would also create an amazing alternative transportation corridor without pitting cars and bikes against each other!
Fred Schmidt says
This is all well and good. The stellar Waller Creek redevelopment is adjacent to the east. But adjacent to the west sits Austin’s (the No.1 economy in the nation) shameful solution to homelessness and social services. Waller, Sabine, The Narrows…it’s all doomed unless we, as a broad community, finally reach deep in both political will and investment to enact a distributed solution to the spectacle of 7th & Neches. Not NIMBY, but rather BIEBY – Bits In Everyone’s Back Yard.