Notice cranes in the Austin skyline or fenced-off city blocks with deep holes in the ground? The constant construction is building the Austin of tomorrow, including five major mixed-use developments that span the South shore of Lady Bird Lake to the northeast tech corridor and are due to be completed over the next two decades.
EastVillage is a forthcoming mixed-use development in Northeast Austin. (EastVillage)
This $1 billion, 425-acre mixed-use development will be located on Parmer Lane, across from the Samsung Austin Semiconductor plant and in the heart of the northeast tech corridor. Developer Reger Holdings refers to the area as Austin's Upper East Side.
The first phase of the project, which includes a 312-unit apartment complex, recently broke ground and is due to be completed next spring. By 2028, when the development is expected to be completed, it will feature 2,000 multifamily units, 466 single-family homes, three hotels, 319,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 810,000 square feet of office space and 150 acres of wooded preserve.
The Capitol Complex will add a tree-lined pedestrian promenade on Congress Avenue between 16th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. (Texas Facilities Commission)
The Texas Capitol Complex master plan is a state effort that aims to centralize state agencies and construct a pedestrian mall along Congress Avenue between 16th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The $895 million project is due to be completed in three phases, according to the Texas Facilities Commission. The first phase includes the construction of two new state office buildings, the pedestrian mall and a two-story water utility plant, which are due to be completed between July and next May. The second phase is expected to be finished in 2025. There is also the possibility of a third phase, although funding and a timeframe have not yet been established.
The HealthSouth redevelopment has been called a catalyst project for the city's burgeoning health innovation district. (City of Austin)
The city's burgeoning health innovation district—a nexus of academic, business and public tenants focused on new health policies, systems and products—includes Dell Medical School, Dell Seton Medical Center and the redeveloped HealthSouth property.
Austin City Council recently entered into preliminary negotiations with Aspen Heights Partners regarding HealthSouth and its parking garage, on Red River Street, which could serve as the district's catalyst project. As proposed, it would include multi-bedroom affordable housing and affordable on-site childcare, live music and art venue space and publicly accessible open spaces.
Over the next decade, the district could create nearly 3,000 jobs, increase land value and property tax revenue, and generate $800 million in economic output, according to an analysis commissioned by the Downtown Austin Alliance.
South Central Waterfront
The South Central Waterfront plan will guide redevelopment of the area's 32 private parcels, the largest of which is the Austin American-Statesman building. (Endeavor)
Austin City Council adopted the South Central Waterfront Framework Plan in 2016, which will guide the redevelopment of 118 acres along Lady Bird Lake over the next 20 years. The area is made up of 32 private parcels, including the Austin American-Statesman property.
The $252 million plan charts out a network of connected green streets, public open spaces and a goal of 530 new affordable housing units. As proposed, the Statesman site will be redeveloped to include several buildings, some as high as 40 stories; an extension of Barton Springs Road from South Congress Avenue to East Riverside Drive; and 12.5 acres of public space, including a waterfront park.
The Austin Economic Development Corporation, which is helping to manage the plan, intends to create a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, to help finance the project, which would require approval from Austin City Council. A TIRZ uses future tax revenue to finance new development.
The controversial River Park development is due to open in phases over the next two decades. (Sasaki)
This 97-acre mixed use development is slated for the intersection of Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley Road and will include more than 400 affordable housing units as well as 10 million square feet of offices, shops, hotels, parks and homes. It is scheduled to be built in phases over the next two decades, with a preliminary start date planned for 2023.
Bordered by Guerrero Park and Country Club Creek, the development will include access to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and more than 30 acres of public parkland and urban trails. It will also be served by a forthcoming light rail line planned under Project Connect.
Developed by Presidium, River Park has faced controversy and prompted concerns about gentrification. Defend Our Hoods—a local advocacy organization that Austin police has said overlaps with the antifa group Mike Ramos Brigade—protested zoning changes for the site, which its members call the Domain on Riverside. The University of Texas at Austin student government also asked Austin City Council to vote against the changes or replace the affordable student housing currently in the area.
- Tech company Auctane signs lease at new Austin development ... ›
- McKalla Place, Giga Texas and other Austin towers in 2021 - austonia ›
- Austin's new urban center begins construction - austonia ›
- East Austin development River Park gets new name and plan ... ›
- Tesla Gigafactory will accelerate growth in southeast Austin - austonia ›
- The North vs/ South divide in Austin is a tale as old as time - austonia ›
- Developing Camp Mabry could solve Austin’s housing crisis - austonia ›
- Austin's Seaholm Waterfront is finally getting a makeover - austonia ›
- The future of Muny has been debated for years, but the conversation entered a new phase on Monday evening, when the city hosted the first of many public meetings to collect feedback on the site's redevelopment. - austonia ›
- U.S. Sen. Cornyn meets with Austin chip companies amid shortage - austonia ›
- River Park releases first plans for development - austonia ›
- Three new developments near Mueller set to transform over a block of Manor Road - austonia ›
- VIDEO: Four Seasons plans multimillion-dollar lakefront homes in Austin - austonia ›
- Taylor, Texas chosen as new site of Samsung chip-making facility - austonia ›
- Austin and San Antonio could soon form a metroplex that rivals DFW - austonia ›
- 5 towers and development coming to Austin in 2022 - austonia ›
- Micron may bring chipmaking plant to Central Texas - austonia ›
- $2B development coming near Austin's new Apple campus - austonia ›
- Six-story development breaking ground in East Austin in 2022 - austonia ›
- Alpine-X looking to bring indoor ski resort to Austin - austonia ›
- Mixed-use community coming between Austin and San Antonio - austonia ›
- Austin is building more homes than any other U.S. city - austonia ›
- 750-Unit Multifamily Development coming to South Austin - austonia ›
- Ski Shores reopening after McGuire Moorman Lambert acquisition - austonia ›
- Building Austin: Company behind three iconic Austin bridges reflects on 50 years - austonia ›
Matias Segura swept his hand across a whiteboard in his office at AISD headquarters, describing how an entrance vestibule works. It might remind you of a sally port at a prison. The vestibule is designed to protect our children from the active shooters who have plagued our nation since Columbine in 1999.
“You start with the signage,” he said. “You know exactly where the entrance is, and that’s for first responders too. We really want to make sure we keep up with visitor patterns. If they come in, they go through a system. Driver’s license, background check, which takes about a minute. We have a software system.”
AISD Director of Operations Matias Segura explains the overall school construction and what the entry vestibule looks like. (Rich Oppel)
The vestibule has two sets of locked doors. The exterior set has an audio-visual intercom, operated by a desk officer who has a view of visitor parking, the building approach and the vestibule. If allowed in, a visitor is buzzed through and then faces questioning and clearance by the desk officer. The visitor is given a card-reader pass. If a second person attempts to “trail in” behind another visitor, he is trapped in the vestibule until his status is determined. The second set of doors, into the main school building, remains locked and shut. It is open when students arrive in the morning.
Thus, the days of walking into the school, maybe waving at the principal’s executive assistant and strolling off to the cafeteria for lunch with your daughter are gone, a relic of a more bucolic time when “active shooters” were never imagined. But one must ask, what do we give up for greater safety?
Austinites remembered the Uvalde shooting victims in a vigil at the Texas Capitol in May. (Tony Fuentes)
Some critics argue that we are at risk of losing traditional values in the redesign of schools, courthouses, hospitals, churches and shopping centers. Writing in The Washington Post, architecture critic Philip Kennicott said the nation’s gun culture “threatens an essential precondition for democracy: its public space… Ideals of openness, flow, transparency and access will no longer be sustainable.”
Segura contemplates the question. At 41, he has held his job as AISD director of operations for four and a half years. Prior to that he was a consultant who led the team to build Austin’s new courthouse. His Austin and Texas roots are deep. He was born here, graduated from Bowie High, and went off to Lubbock to earn a degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech. He returned to secure an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Joy Burson-Segura have two daughters who attend AISD schools. Segura said he and his operations team love AISD, care deeply about their work, and want citizens “to see us as partners.”
Back to what we lose in hardening the schools.
Segura says, “We think about students’ health. Having daylight, bringing light into a hardened facility, being able to access outdoor learning areas, (which is) hypercritical, especially in what we have learned in the pandemic.” Segura doesn’t like the idea of moats around schools (exotic, expensive) nor of classroom bomb shelters (what would teachers and students think about their looming presence?), efforts that are being tried elsewhere.
Healthcare workers receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the AISD Performing Arts Center in Mueller in 2021. (Jordan Vonderhaar)
AISD must juggle school security with the historic use of our schools for other purposes, such as voting, PTA-PTO meetings, community fairs, and, more recently, COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and food distribution. AISD does not want to end those uses, so the challenge is to design schools with separate rooms or places for those uses.
Clearly, Segura has thought about balancing conflicting equities. For him, it’s not all locked doors and blank brick or concrete walls. He stresses the importance of building a culture that includes shared responsibility of all school employees where, for example, a custodian could ask a stranger whether they have a visitor’s badge. All staffers should be well-trained in security measures, knowledgeable about new technology, and committed to working as a team to protect students, teachers and others. “We are working very, very hard on the culture,” he says. “Also, we need (financial) investment if we are going to move the needle.”
Kennicott, the Washington Post critic, quotes the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist and New York Democrat, who said, “Architecture is inescapably a political art, and it reports faithfully for ages to come what the political values of a particular era were. Surely, ours must be openness and fearlessness in the face of those who hide in darkness.”
But that was in 2001. What messages will Austin’s new public schools convey to future generations about our 2021 political values?
“First and foremost, these are education spaces that belong to our community. Our objective is to create incredible learning experiences for our students and at the same time ensure that the students and staff are safe.” He said he wants people to view schools as “inspired,” places where they would want to send their children. “Great things are happening in that space,” and that teachers see a place where they want to work and where they feel safe.
Voters in AISD will decide Nov. 8 on a $2.44 billion bond package to provide “funding for improvements to enhance safety, centers on equity, benefits every campus, and addresses affordability,” according to AISD officials.
Ever had sushi delivered to you on a conveyor belt or tried Ukrainian borsch?
If you're looking for a restaurant that shakes up your dinner, try one of these newly-opened options.
Conveyor belt sushi
For a fun, interactive twist on your typical sushi dinner, head to Kura Revolving Sushi Bar. Upon sitting down, you’ll have a conveyor belt to one side, where you can pluck whichever plate piques your interest, or a screen that allows you to order plates a la carte. You’ll pay by the plate, which tends to be less than a few dollars each, and win prizes if you hit the right milestones.
Korean Egg Toast
Serving all things egg, Egg Bomb opened earlier this month at 808 North Lamar Blvd., taking over the former Ola Poke location. Egg Bomb specializes in Korean egg drop sandwiches, with toppings like cheese, caramelized onions, avocado, salmon and condiments; “Egg Tots,” or fries with eggs and toppings, as well as coffee and sides. You can also find egg toast and squid ink hotdogs at Oh K-Dog.
Tortas at La Plancha
With a desire to fill the torta-shaped whole they saw in Austin’s fare, co-owning couple Mariha Hinojosa and Julian Richmond opened La Plancha, 1701 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, on July 1. The Mexican sandwiches are served on a bolillo bun with toppings including avocado, barbacoa, queso fresco, refried beans, cheese, pickles and salsa. There are other options: Think papas fritas, street corn and mini-churros.
Ukrainian cuisine to-go
You can take your chicken Kyiv to-to at new takeout-only restaurant U-Cuisine, 5610 N. I-35, which opened in mid-June. Ukrainian chefs and owners Alla Shelest and Mariana Shelestiuk said they are trying to bring a taste of their home country amidst a difficult time in history. Try the chicken Kyiv, a dill and parsley-stuffed chicken breast rolled in breadcrumbs; borsch, a burgundy beetroot soup; Holubtsi, beef and pork cabbage rolls; and lviv syrnyk, a chocolatey raisin cheesecake.
- Austin ranks #5 in top foodie cities in US - austonia ›
- For Austin dog lovers, the Conscious Pet transforms kitchen scraps ... ›
- Austin food under $10, cheap eats that are delicious - austonia ›
- Complete guide to Austin FC's Q2 Stadium food options 2022 ... ›
- From Mexico City, machetes have made a spark in the Austin food ... ›