The South Central Waterfront in Austin is plagued with issues that are detrimental to the vitality and character of the 97-acre site. At present, the site faces obstacles to waterfront access, connectivity, pedestrian and bicycle mobility, housing, street life activity, and economic activity. The area lacks appropriate development that engages both visitors and residents and sustains diverse residential, commercial, and recreational uses. Few interactive spaces exist along the waterfront and throughout the site to engage people in a way that is unique to Austin. These are barriers that prevent the site from becoming a celebrated element of Austin’s urban fabric.
The first phase of the site design process emphasized increased waterfront access through a connected street system that links the site to both the waterfront and areas of activity. This system would emphasize pedestrian and bicycle use to create movement. Currently, there are some roadways along parcel lines that could be public streets, but these are on private property and mostly serve as access to parking lots for the existing buildings. However, there is potential for creating streets along these parcel lines and improving connectivity. The following sketches show the first version of a street network situated within a proposed activity center that shaped the design. The vision of the street network formed in conjunction with an analysis of developable properties and redevelopments already underway. Using already existing connections and roadways along parcel lines formed the basis of the street network design. An analysis of parcels and property owners guided the decisions behind new streets within the proposed waterfront activity center. The next step in the site design process involved enhancing the street network with focal points that would support the values and goals of the design and would connect residents and visitors to the waterfront through interactive spaces while supporting a healthy mix of residential and commercial properties. A key focus of this step was to reconnect the site to the waterfront by facilitating access to areas of activity near the waterfront.
FINANCIAL ASPECT OF REDEVELOPMENT
An analysis of the financial framework required for the redevelopment yielded 3,030 housing units, which is realistic given the size and location of the site, with 20% of those being affordable housing as part of mixed-use and residential buildings. 0.7 parking will be available per unit. The redevelpment will generate 12,164 jobs.
The studio design outputs and physical models were used by the City of Austin for the acutal South Austin Waterfront plan.
City of Austin' final plan won 2017 Award for Excellence in Sustainability from the American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division.