The South Central Waterfront Plan established a conceptual framework for allowing site-specific building enhancements in exchange for on-site and districtwide community benefit contributions. Analysis forecasts that implementing the Plan will unleash $2 billion of private investments over the next 15 years. The SCW Plan includes a series of Next Steps Recommendations to leverage public and private investments and realize a districtwide network of connected green streets, parks, trails and public open spaces (approximately 20 new acres), as well as achieving 20% new affordable housing units (approximately 530 units).
What’s Happening Now
Below are some of the Next Step Implementation items that have been completed or are in progress:
South Central Waterfront Advisory Board (SCWAB)
City Council has established the SCWAB to “provide continuity and communication among stakeholders and advocates as the South Central Waterfront Plan moves toward implementation and to provide recommendations to the city council regarding plan implementation.” The SCWAB is already busy, working to implement the SCW Vision. See the web link for the South Central Waterfront Advisory Board, for information about its duties, membership, meeting agendas and materials, and future meetings. All SCWAB meetings are open to the public.
South Central Waterfront Regulating Plan
A draft of the SCW Regulating Plan has been developed with support from consultants, and is under review by the SCWAB. In spring 2018, staff will engage property owners and public, and proceed with reviews from other boards and commissions. The goal is to present the Regulating Plan to Council for potential approval in tandem with adoption of a new Land Development Code under CodeNEXT which contains the reference text under the South Central Waterfront Overlay Zone that empowers the Regulating Plan.
These two steps will set up the regulatory framework for properties to opt-in to the SCW Plan. Adoption of these regulations unlocks the development potential of the district that would fuel the Plan's funding tools to finance the SCW Vision.
South Central Waterfront Funding Tools
The SCWAB submitted a resolution to City Council on October 30, 2017 to commence a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) study and draft a TIF ordinance for the South Central Waterfront district. As forecasted in the SCW Plan, a TIF district provides the financial backbone to implementing the ultimate vision.
The SCW Plan identifies “Barton Springs Plaza” (aka: Nightwings Plaza) as a catalytic open space opportunity to jumpstart the SCW Vision. Building the permanent plaza is some ways off, so the SCW Plan calls for creating a temporary plaza to test the concept, using low-cost and temporary materials and working in partnership with community partners.
City staff and community partners, which include The Austin Parks Foundation and local businesses, have collaborated with the Public Works Departments’ Neighborhood Partnering Program and the Ausitn Transportation Department's Sidewalk Cafe Program to create a much grander 12-month demonstration plaza. We’re looking to cut the ribbon on that temporary plaza in spring 2018. Stay tuned!
Bouldin Creek Trail & Canopy Walk
Another key open space opportunity in the SCW Vision is to create a multi-use trail along Bouldin Creek, connecting South First Street and Congress Avenue. The City has worked closely with the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) throughout the planning process, and in particular to conceptualize how this trail might fit on their property, providing mutual benefits and connectivity for their campus and the wider neighborhood.
Good News! The TSD references the SCW Plan and includes the vision of this trail in their Campus Master Plan 2017. TSD and City staff and officials are exploring how this mutual vision can become a reality.