May 7, 2020
Molly Alexander with the Downtown Austin Alliance shared studies & survey results taken from retail businesses who are feeling the largest economic impact resulting from the shutdown. She also outlined concerns surrounding low hotel occupancy rates and the potential loss of cultural class and music venues. Molly explained the numerous steps the city has taken during the pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus (ex. handwashing stations) and briefly touched on DAA’s “Triple R” plan and stressed the importance of an Economic Development Corporation’s role in the future of Austin in the post-pandemic state.
March 4, 2020
Matt Whalen & Bryan Kaminski of RedLeaf Properties along with Jay Barnes & Todd Kaiser of BGK Architects hosted an onsite presentation for the redevelopment of the Highland Mall. RedLeaf teamed with Austin Community College to transform the existing mall into a new campus for the college through a Private Public Partnership. This arrangement allowed the aging mall to be transformed into a new facility serving a current need and allowed revitalization of the surrounding areas. Our hosts presented on the history of what led to the P3 opportunity, the challenges of repurposing the existing mall, the current state of the college & surrounding mixed-use developments and the future development plans for the remaining open spaces.
November 13, 2019
The guest speaker discussed future sustainability initiatives within the City. A 5 year plan is currently being developed that focuses on the carbon footprint. Key components of this plan will address the following areas: alternative systems, natural systems, electric vehicles, and building materials. The new plan will consider policies established by comparable municipalities.
January 18, 2019
The City’s efforts to address homelessness focus on creating pathways that effectively move people through the system to long-term solutions, as opposed to providing permanent housing solutions. Policies are continuing to be reviewed and discussed, including the camping ordinance that took effect 7/1/19. This ordinance has created some challenges for downtown residents and businesses. The City is trying to move quickly but thoughtfully with limited resources to put the best solution forward.
Shoal Creek Conservancy
Ted Siff joined us to present the Shoal Creek Conservancy and their big plans for lower Shoal Creek, between 15th Street and Lady Bird Lake.
- Because of this meeting, the SCC is now developing a plan to work with several condo associations in downtown to create a new ‘neighborhood association’ to combine efforts for security and event programming along Shoal Creek in Downtown.
- Serious discussions and meetings are taking place with SCC and representatives from the Seahold and Independent condos. Further meetings are in the works for 5th & West and the Austin Proper.
- Members enjoyed lunch and discussion over the current market trends, etc., as well as ideas for specific discussion topics in the future.
Central Business District Parking & Transportation Issues
Molly Alexander, Downtown Austin Alliance
Casey Burack, Downtown Austin Alliance
- Discussion of current parking situation in CBD. Parking is there, but not accessible to all. Working on a solution to open up private garages to public.
Meg Merrit, Nelson/Nygard
- Emerging Mobility
- Analyzing Mode Split
- Performance measured by the commute – problems occur at peak hours (not off-peak)
- Technology dominated future
- Further integration of software and hardware, from your phone to the mode of transit
- Transit moving to autonomous & electric
- Commute Mode-Split
- Overall, America will become less auto dependent
- Austin’s current economic competitors – Seattle (75% non-auto), Denver (40% non-auto)
- Austin is the exact inverse of Seattle – 83% by car! – cultural divide
- Bird scooters are great – for first/last mile – but they’re not moving the needle on traffic
- Highest possible goal is likely 50%
- Austin is comparable to Houston or Dallas (roughly)
- Houston has highest ridership of commuter buses in the country
- DART is successful by transit metrics, but not keeping pace with population growth
- Every public transit system in the US has declining ridership right now, except Houston, Seattle, and Phoenix
- Urbanization is creating suburbanization!
- Mobility Service Providers – where are we going?
- Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)
- Car companies/Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
- Micro transit (think Chariot – fixed route example; Pickup in LA)
- Car share / Bike share (dockless & docked) / Electric scooters
- Three Futures: Low, Medium, and High Occupancy options
- Medium – (12-passenger) “micro transit” is rising in the US
- Low – Ubar/Lyft are part of traffic increases; also losing money until cars are driverless
- “Dead heading” – the time that the driver is driving with no rider
- Ex: Aloft didn’t have to do a Transportation Impact Analysis because no parking but of course there are still trips by uber & lyft!
- Predictive technology will help
- Policy would help
- example: delivery drivers not allowed to make trips during peak hours
- ex: Finland: drivers pay more to drive during peak hours
- Potential adoption models
- “Mobility as a Service” Model – OEMs own autonomous
- Traditional private ownership
- Even with alternate modes of transit, we can only move so many through an intersection at any time
- Biggest investor in autonomous vehicles is Google, who relies on ads – so will autonomous vehicles inundate riders with ads unless they can pay to turn them off?
- Austin: Are we on the fast track to Detroit?
- Why build all this wealth for our kids if they won’t want to live here?
- Geometry – technology never changes geometry
- “Park-itecture” – if we don’t have a need for more parking, why are we building it? Th development it in the demands short-term and bank financing requires it.
- Driveways – Austin has so many driveways downtown – we can’t add high speed lanes
- American traffic engineers are trained to “design” gigantic streets (“level of service”) – California has dropped level of service from TIA requirements
- Traffic won’t be solved from technology alone