The skyline and other parts of Austin will see some changes this year with new developments set to open.
From tech giants set to welcome workers to housing for UT students, these are some projects to look out for in 2022.
Block 185 | 601 W. 2nd Street
After about three years in the works, Google workers are expected to take over Austin’s tallest office tower. It is slated to be complete in May. Plus, we'll see Uchi's newest restaurant Uchibā take post in the building.
The sailboat-inspired downtown building is expected to stand at 594 feet. Also included is a creekside tenant amenity, retail space and a boardwalk. The tower will also feature outdoor roof areas for prime views of Lady Bird Lake.
Apple Campus | West Parmer Lane and Dallas Drive
Thirty years since Apple first established a presence in Austin, the company is set to deepen its roots with a $1 billion campus in Northwest Austin. Apple has previously said employees will start reporting to the campus sometime this year, though COVID-19 has caused delays to in-person work.
The 133-acre campus, near its office on West Parmer Lane, includes 2 million square feet of office space, a 192 room hotel and space to bring in 5,000 employees.
Waterloo Central tower | 701 E. 5th Street
In July 2020, Hippo Analytics, a California-based property insurance company that uses AI and big data to analyze property information, signed a lease at the five-story office tower.
With a curtain wall glass design taking up 39,000 square feet, this project is expected to be completed sometime in Q2.
Moody Center | 2001 Robert Dedman Dr.
In replacement of the Frank Erwin Center, this $338 million arena will be able to seat 10,000 for Texas Longhorn basketball games and up to 5,000 more for other events. It will make its official debut in April.
The arena takes its name from the Moody Foundation, which gave $130 million toward construction.
Concerts have already been booked, including a first performance by John Mayer and a George Strait and Willie Nelson show. Click here for scheduled events so far.
Waterloo West Campus tower | 2400 Seton Ave.
With 241 units spanning 30 stories, the $77.6 million student housing complex in West Campus will be the tallest tower in the neighborhood at 300 feet. An exact completion date has not been announced.
Lincoln Ventures, the Austin-based developers behind the plan, have said 20% of units will be affordable housing with the remainder going at the market rate. The building will include amenities fit for college students, including conference rooms, a rooftop terrace with a fitness center and a complimentary coffee bar.
RiverSouth tower | 401 S. First St.
Stream signs powerhouse law firm as the first tenant for its signature Austin project, RiverSouth. International law firm Baker Botts has signed a 12-year lease to assume 50,000 square feet of the 350,611 square-foot office tower. http://bit.ly/rs-bakerbotts\u00a0pic.twitter.com/1RhiQqaa4D— Stream Realty Partners (@Stream Realty Partners) 1559597880
Located at the intersections of South First Street, West Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road, this 15-story office building will be finished next month and start move-ins in May. Taking up 17,000 square feet, it includes an underground parking and bike storage, a fitness center and a lounge with skyline views.
The developer, Stream, said the leasing demand “has been nothing short of remarkable.” Already, 50% of the building is pre-leased to tenants such as AlertMedia and some Austin-based businesses.
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The Austin airport is warning travelers to “pack your patience” as it expects this Memorial Day weekend to be the busiest in airport history.
This weekend will kick off a period of more than 4.8 million passengers passing through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport by the end of summer—contributing to a projected record-breaking year of 22 million passengers at ABIA.
The surge in traffic at the airport comes as ABIA considers itself officially recovered from the pandemic's impact, an airport spokesperson ABIA Public Information Specialist Bailey Grimmett told Austonia. Additionally, the population growth in Central Texas and more service offered from ABIA has meant more people at the airport, she said. However, it has come under fire for increasingly long wait times at TSA and not having enough parking.
Flying soon? Here’s how to prepare for a busy airport this summer.
Arrive hours early for your flight, especially if it's in the morning
Summer travel lines in September 2021. (Austonia)
The busiest passenger traffic days in summer 2021 were Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays, according to a release but each day of the week is expected to see increased traffic this summer. Lines tend to be longest before 8 a.m. and sometimes mid-morning hours.
Grimmett told Austonia the average person should arrive at the airport two-and-a-half hours before boarding time for domestic flights or three hours early for international flights. You might want to tack on extra time if…
- You need to park or are returning a rental.
- You’re traveling with a big group, children or those who require assistance.
- You’re checking in baggage.
Familiarize yourself with TSA requirements
The worst thing while traveling is getting stuck in security and having to repack all of your belongings. If you’re traveling with a carry-on of toiletries, medication or food, double-check with TSA.gov if you’re not sure.Security screening checkpoints open at 3 a.m. and Grimmett said don’t hesitate to ask a staff member if you need help. Faster screening is available by applying for TSA PreCheck or Clear screening for an extra fee.
Rather wait for the rush to die down?
Grimmett said to expect near-constant high traffic through August, when students return to school and tourist season ends. The lull is short-lived though—ABIA typically sees another travel uptick in October for events like F1 and ACL Festival.
Once you’re inside, refer to our complete guide to ABIA for a look at the amenities.
By Kali Bramble
Calls for firmer regulation of the dockless scooters, mopeds and e-bikes scattered about the city may hit the desks of City Council in coming months, as a recommendation from the Downtown Commission makes its way to the agenda.
The recommendation proposes stricter requirements for providers to remove devices blocking sidewalks, crosswalks and other rights of way and increase fees for subsequently impounded vehicles. The proposal also calls for implementing a ticketing system for riders who violate municipal traffic code or state law.
Since 2018, the steady influx of electronic scooters has left Austin’s Transportation Department scrambling to integrate the devices into city infrastructure. As of this year, companies Bird, Lime, LINK, and Wheels collectively operate a total of 14,100 micromobility devices, many of which are concentrated in Austin’s urban core.
“I walked out of my office at Sixth and Congress today at noon and counted 65 scooters laying on their side,” Texas Monthly founder Michael Levy said in a public comment. “It looks like a war zone.”
Critics of the exploding scooter market cite incidents of devices blocking pedestrian walkways for days on end. Under the commission’s proposal, improperly discarded devices would be subject to impounding within two hours, with the time limit reduced to one hour in the downtown area. A $100 release fee along with a $5 per day storage fee would go toward investment in infrastructure solutions, such as augmenting the 25 existing parking corrals throughout the city.
Detractors also cite episodes of reckless and inebriated scooter riders as an increasing public health problem. While restrictions like in-app speed reduction technology have sought to mitigate such incidents, emergency room workers anecdotally report an alarming number of scooter-related injuries, especially on weekends. Preliminary data from Austin Public Health supports such claims, though it is still a challenge to quantify.
Micromobility advocates, on the other hand, argue that scooters provide an important service to those navigating Austin’s patchwork public transportation system. The Transportation Department considers such short-distance mobility options another solution in its toolbox to combat the city’s over-reliance on cars.
Still, scooter skeptics wonder if these benefits outweigh consequences. Levy noted that cities like San Diego have responded very differently to the burgeoning industry, instituting strict regulations and penalties that have reduced the presence of scooters without banning them entirely.
The Downtown Commission’s recommendation proposes citations for scooter riders violating municipal parking and traffic laws amounting to $100 for first-time offenders, followed by $250 for subsequent offenses. The proposal would also ban scooter-riding on a number of highly trafficked sidewalks, though these remain unspecified.
The commission hopes such tools could work alongside efforts by the Transportation Department to ramp up enforcement, including the recent establishment of 10 full-time mobility service officer positions charged with regulating scooter use. Increased revenue from licensing fees and ticketing could also serve to finance infrastructure solutions.
“It’s shocking to me that we currently only get around $1 million a year out of these fees,” Commissioner Mike Lavigne said. “I did some rough math … and figure we’ve maybe gotten $6 million since this thing started. It seems to me like we could be getting a whole lot more to invest in making it more sustainable, like more docking stations and corrals, so there’s somewhere for these scooters to go.”