Posts Tagged ‘development’

Will Congress Avenue Survive?

On my way to try out the new Conjunctured co-working space (which is a whole other story) today on my bike, I stopped to get a few breakfast tacos at the doomed Las Manitas Cafe.  Across the street, the abomination known as The Austonian (please don’t start calling Austin residents “Austonians” – we are Austinites!) is going up. In addition to losing Las Manitas as a business, a letter posted on the counter at Las Manitas made it sound like Congress Avenue could lose that block of buildings, completely, to the new Marriott property.  The letter on the counter indicated there will be a hearing of the Historical Commission this coming Monday, yet I could not find out any information on the City’s Web site today.

That little section of Congress, which is supposedly a National Historic District, is really a huge part of what I think of as Austin.  My grandparents ran a store on Congress when I was a kid, and I remember when Las Manitas was Avenue Cafe, Woolworth’s supplied all our pharmaceutical needs as well as tasty shakes and burgers, the elegant Scarbrough’s department store gave us a taste of big-city living a la Macy’s or Bergdorf’s, and the Picadilly Cafeteria was upscale dining.  How much of that essence, the feeling, of that past remain? I’m worried.  Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but we have historic districts for good reason in this country, and I hope there is some teeth in this one. 

Save Austin

Save Austin…

I wonder what the person who tagged this photo of people running and biking on the hike and bike trail was thinking? I don’t think it was merely copyediting the ad, which is for one of the new condo developments on Barton Springs Road near Zilker. I think it was one of those people who has also tagged bathrooms at places like Lovejoys – “Yuppies Out of East Austin” and the like.

What are we saving Austin for, or from? Well, I think it’s obviously a way of life that we’re trying to save. We’re also trying to save the beautiful natural environment. Wow, those are two really big things, to begin with.

One thing that really enfuriates me is the wonton demolition of existing structures – like the old Waterloo Brewing Company (more recently Fox and Hound), which was documented here back in March.

Maybe one way to preserve a bit more of Austin, or at least slow down some development and ensure that perfectly good materials don’t go to waste, would be a city requirement that certain buildings be disassembled, as opposed to simply demolished. Perhaps this possibility has been discussed? If there is any movement in that direction, please let me know – I’ll show up at City Council to support it, for sure.

Barton Springs Relief

When I last passed by Barton Springs Pool, I also checked out Eliza Springs, the Researchers at Eliza Springscool amphitheater-type pool next to the playscape, to see if there were any alligators in it.  I don’t know if I really ever saw an alligator living there or if it’s just one of those thing I remember because I was told as a kid and believed it… but the sign at Eliza says that no alligators live there.  Much to my surprise, there was a lot of activity in the pool.  People were acting as much like alligators as they could, except instead of trying to eat the salamanders that live there, which are protected species, they were simply “researching” them. 

As you hopefully know, the water at Barton Springs and the adjacent springs comes from the highly porous Edwards Aquifer.  Anything that gets dumped over the ground – motor oil, fertilizer for grass, diazonon to kill ants – eventually makes its way into the aquifer and then to the Springs and some people’s drinking water.

You may have read my post earlier this week about Oak Hill’s neighborhood plan.  Well, what happens in Oak Hill and Southwest Austin affects the treasure that is the aquifer and Barton Springs.  And now, dear citizens, you have an opportunity to comment on the plans for that area, without leaving the comfort of your desk.  Nope, no all-night council meeting required (yet).  Just go to the city’s survey about the Oak Hill plan and fill it out. You know the friends of developers will.

Then, to reward yourself for your participation, go on down to Barton Springs this Saturday for Free Swim Day (according to an email newsletter from the Save Our Springs Alliance, whose web site seems to be hosed at the moment)!

Oak Hill whiners FLUMmoxed

So if you bother to move to the outskirts of Austin, you must be doing so to get a big house on a big lot on a quiet street, close to “good” schools, for much cheaper than Central Austin. If you do so, you have no right to complain that you can’t walk to the store.

Well, people in Oak Hill and Southwest Austin apparently want their cake and to eat it too. As much as I am an avid proponent of denser development and public transit, I find it disingenuous of the community leaders in that area to now start blaming the Save Our Springs ordinance for the fact that their neighborhoods aren’t (and may never be) more pedestrian friendly and dense.

Tomorrow night, the city’s planning staff will present the tentative Future Land Use Map (FLUM) and plan documents to stakeholders for one last discussion before the planning commission and city council vote on it. David Richardson, who lead the effort at the neighborhood level, complains to Community Impact that the SOS ordinance blocks any and every kind of good development because

landowners cannot develop or put impervious cover, which is anything from rooftops to parking lots, over more than 25 percent of an individual landowner’s property, in the area called the contributing zone.

Mr. Richardson complains that you can’t put in denser muliple-use development that would make walking and biking more appealing because of the “roadblocks” like this.

The SOS ordinance *should* be a roadblock. Its intent is to discourage development, which causes water pollution in the sensitive contributing zone and the more sensitive recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer. If you want to live in a densely developed area, move to Central Austin!

Buhbye Fox and Hound

Previously the Waterloo Brewing Company and later the Fox and Hound, and spotted on my walk across Austin this morning…

foxhound.jpg

Seems like development is on the menu today.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.