Austin’s second downtown

I’ve been hearing for a while about how the Domain is becoming Austin’s second downtown: the principal commercial and entertainment district for the zillions of people who are moving north of 183. The major mixed-use development that City Council is poised to approve at the IBM Broadmoor campus, just a mile to the west of the Domain, will accelerate that trend.

Domain-Walk-Way

My City Hall comrade, Chris Neely, has the deets:

IBM has occupied the roughly 66-acre tract at 11501 Burnet Road since the campus’s development in 1991. Future plans for the campus include a mixed-use development with a new Capital Metro Rail Station, at least 2,000 housing units and building heights of up to 360 feet.

The plan has the full support of the nearby Gracywoods Neighborhood Association, and the zoning change request that would allow the development to double its height earned first-reading approval from Austin City Council on April 12. City Council will conduct a public hearing before the final two readings of the zoning change sometime around May.

Developer Brandywine Realty LLC developed the 20-year phased plan for the project through collaboration and communication with the surrounding community, according to District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool.

“Brandywine’s work with the community helped make this a truly beneficial project for everyone,” Pool said at a City Council work session in April. “It’s a model for how community conversations and collaboration fosters better planning, better projects and overall goodwill.”

You may recall that a similar development eight miles to the south, The Grove at Shoal Creek, was greeted with far less enthusiasm from Pool and neighborhood groups. Off the top of my head, there are two key distinctions between the two projects:

  1. Broadmoor is located on Burnet, a major corridor, and thus does not garner as many concerns about additional traffic on neighborhood streets. (That being said, a 300-unit apartment complex on Burnet just south of 183 was opposed by neighborhood groups and the ANC-aligned Council members in 2015)
  2. Development outside of Central Austin is always far less politically sensitive than projects in established, central neighborhoods. Neighborhood groups in Central Austin are largely geared towards fighting growth, while those outside of the core are probably more inclined to welcome economic development and commerce.

The great news is that the developer says that as many as half of the 2,000 units could be income-restricted, although it’s not clear for what income level. This is a great opportunity to provide substantial below-market housing in the area before the market gobbles up the rest of the land and little land remains for the poor and working class.

The growth in the area also underscores why the vacant McKalla lot, 2.5 miles to the south, is a compelling location both for a future Major League Soccer stadium or for more affordable housing.

3 thoughts on “Austin’s second downtown

  1. Unlike Downtown Austin, the Domain is not easy to enter by bus or on foot. No continuous sidewalk route connects Braker Lane into the Domain. The 803 has one drop off not near any retail destination. The 466 bus takes a winding route between Kramer & Domain. Sure, it is nice walking inside the Domain… but not to the Domain.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Dave. Hopefully these are all issues that can be improved in the coming years. The improves on Burnet Rd as a result of the mobility bond, for instance. Does that section of Burnet have sidewalks/bike lanes at this point? If not they should at conclusion of the bond spending. If more density can be added to the surrounding area then the transit should follow. Emphasis on “should”

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      1. Under CodeNEXT, a private road into a development will have to be built to CoA standards, in which case there will be sidewalks.

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