We all know that downtown Austin has seen some explosive growth over the last decade. Developers have put up office towers and high rise condos, the bar scene has exploded, and lots of live, outdoor music gets pumped into the night. (Not always to the pleasure of the neighbors.)
But there have been problems in the middle of all that energy: an ongoing homeless presence, a need for noise control, and a lack of affordable housing on site for the people who actually work downtown.
This is an area with vast economic potential. We are talking serious numbers:
- An assessed value of $4.3 billion,
- Downtown tax revenue of almost $75 million,
- Private investment in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion to $2 billion,
- And additional investment by the city of $600 million since 2000.
Any time you toss that kind of money around, the most critical thing is direction. Enter the Downtown Austin Plan, a 180-page document four years in the making that alone set the city back $1.5 million.
But, with a lot of input from all the varied parties with interest in the region, the plan seeks to get a handle on all that growth and channel it: do something real and permanent for the homeless, make sure that live music and livability exist side-by-side in the area, enhance the parks and public spaces, and preserve the area's historical character.
The plan cuts downtown into nine districts and lays out specific goals for each. Basically if you look at the map, the geographic area is MLK Jr. Boulevard on the north, Lady Bird Lake on the south, I-35 on the east and Lamar on the west.
The really critical "Core/Waterfront" district includes Congress and 6th Street. To view a map of these areas Click here . The other surrounding districts are designated as:
- Lower Shoal Creek,
- Waller Creek,
- Rainy Street,
- Judges Hill,
- and UT/Northwest.
For us as real estate investors this is excellent news. Over the next 10 years, these planned enhancements will make downtown an even more desirable location for renters and buyers. If you have existing properties in the region, gradual rent increases will naturally follow the course of the plan. If you're looking to buy, do it now.
There are many things that set our city apart from the "competition," but targeted urban planning on this level is, in my opinion, one of the best. Downtown is great already and it's just going to get better in years to come.