Planners showcase new vision for South Shore Central
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Eight urban planners were asked to define the future of Austin’s South Shore Central.
Wednesday night, after three days of meetings with stakeholders and residents, the team unveiled how it sees the area in the next 10 to 20 years.
Planners introduced three concepts which keep the pedestrian, bicyclist and nature in mind:
1. "Verde" focuses on integrating development with the waterfront of Lady Bird Lake (pages 36-38)
2. "North SoCo" blends the iconic "weirdness" of South Congress (pages 39-41)
3. "SoDo" uses the area to transition from a bustling downtown to laid back South Austin (pages 42-44)
Central Austin resident Sean Compton says he’s impressed by the recommendations.
"I think a lot of them are really quite logical," he said. "[They’re] really emphasizing the public realm. (They're) getting a lot more areas for people to interact and having places for people to both shop and live and recreate."
Brooke Bailey chairs the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board. The board has been at an impasse for years due to infighting among interest groups, but she said something changed this week.
"We need to keep the cohesiveness. We started with this. That hadn't happened before," Bailey said.
Planners recommend replacing parking lots with underground garages. Above ground, they envision 3,500 apartments and condos, 2,000 hotel rooms and at least two million square feet of office and retail space.
While Bailey said hurdles lie ahead, she believes success is possible.
"Certainty and predictability in the development process is huge. Predictability breeds trust," she said.
Many planners think the area along Lady Bird Lake has the greatest potential and will one day be a place where people want to be, rather than just pass through.
The plan also looks at improving roadways. Planners pitched the ideas of redesigning the intersection at Riverside Drive and Barton Springs road.
Experts said making the area more appealing to pedestrians is essential.
The Waterfront Planning Advisory Board is expected to make recommendations to the City Council by the end of the year for South Shore Central.
The plans presented Wednesday night are only suggestions. A complete plan is expected to be finished within the next two to three months. Click here to view a copy of the planners’ vision.