Transformation continues on the west side of downtown Austin

Developers of the Fifth & West Residences in western downtown Austin estimate 90 percent of the downtown residential properties west of Congress Avenue were built in the past 10 years.

Developers of the Fifth & West Residences in western downtown Austin estimate 90 percent of the downtown residential properties west of Congress Avenue were built in the past 10 years.

Western downtown transformation continues

Long-term planning and upfront city investment are credited for the recent residential boom in Austin’s central core—especially in the western downtown area.

The effort to entice more residents downtown started in the late 1990s, according to Fred Evins, redevelopment project manager for the city’s Economic Development Department.

“The desire was to turn it into a 24-hour downtown,” Evins told Community Impact Newspaper in July. “The key to that is having downtown residents.”

An early city goal to attract 25,000 residents downtown is still halfway from being realized, he said. Condominium projects in the early 2000s helped prove there is enough downtown demand, Evins said.

“There’s been a few brave residential pioneers,” he said.

Meredith Powell, Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association board president, was one such pioneer, having moved downtown 10 years ago. She said the influx of downtown residents has been embraced by DANA members.

“It’s been a welcomed change, frankly,” Powell said. “Living downtown 10 years ago, it was quiet and at times a bit scary.”

City efforts to redevelop the former Seaholm Power Plant and Green Water Treatment Plant sites have resulted in the majority of residential developments being built on the west side of downtown.

“It may seem like this development is happening overnight, but really this is a long time in the making and the public had a part in making that possible,” Powell said.

The area, coined by some residents as the Market District, has benefited from other residential projects as well as complementary development, such as multiple grocery stores, said Scott Dunaway, spokesperson for Fifth & West Residences, a 39-story, 154-unit condo project under construction near redevelopment efforts. The residential project will open in fall 2017. Fifth & West is among multiple condos being developed in that portion of  downtown. However, Dunaway said the competitive market ultimately benefits residents.

“I would say that it’s great—it’s great for downtown living, and it’s provided a tremendous opportunity for folks to live a carless lifestyle down there,” he said.

Watch the video:

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


Austin City Council members met for a work session April 20 ahead of the body's regular April 22 session. (Screenshot via city of Austin)
Austin City Hall notebook: Police services decoupling, rental assistance, downtown density bonus fees under consideration

Council will also consider a resolution that would ask state agencies to begin the distribution of about $18 billion in federal aid money aimed at supporting K-12 education.

The Austin Downtown Alliance shared its 2021 State of Downtown report and new recovery and resiliency plan April 21. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Downtown resiliency plan takes aim at Central Austin storefronts, public spaces, homelessness strategy

Officials with the Downtown Austin Alliance shared details on two new reports analyzing the city center's past year and pandemic recovery plans April 21.

As part of President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen schools safely nationwide, the department’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option is being expanded beyond the summertime. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
USDA extends free school meals provision through 2021-22 school year

Schools nationwide will be able to serve nutritious meals to all students free of charge regardless of eligibility through June 30, 2022, officials announced.

Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house 3,000 homeless individuals in Austin in the next three years would cost $515 million

The plan Austin City Council members discussed April 20 emerged from a weekslong community-wide summit on homelessness.

Photo of Zilker Park
Travis County establishes Civilian Climate Corps to tackle environmental projects

The program will create opportunities for residents to work on projects including wildfire prevention, solar energy promotion and park cleanups.

Residents march to the Texas Capitol in protests after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Austin leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard speaks to reporters March 13 at the Delco Actiity Center in Northeast Austin. Residents can walk up to the Delco Center on April 22 and 23 and receive vaccines without an appointment. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Public Health will accept walk-up vaccinations at the Delco Activity Center starting April 22

APH will also leave its registration portal open throughout most of the week.

Early voting for Travis County's May 1 local elections opened April 19. In this file photo, voters line up ahead of the 2020 primary elections at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 8,000 Travis County voters cast ballots on first day of early voting

Early voting for the county's May 1 election began April 19 and will run through April 27.

The Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin is one of the locations where residents can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. (Jack Flalger/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin vaccine updates: Demand slows as state begins marketing push

Appointments are beginning to go unfilled, and local health officials say demand has caught up to supply. All adults in the U.S. are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Blue Corn Harvest Leander is located at 11840 Hero Way W., Bldg. A, Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blue Corn Harvest opens in Leander; park, pizzeria launches social club and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of two performers on an outdoor SXSW stage
South by Southwest sells ownership stake in company to Rolling Stone owner Penske Media Corp.

SXSW leadership called the sale a "lifeline" for the conference and festivals.

Photo of people receiving vaccines in a gym
Austin Public Health lengthens windows for vaccine appointment signups

Residents age 18 and up can now sign up for appointments with APH any time from Saturday to Tuesday morning.