South Austin community shares vision for commercial development

Residents, business owners and other Southwest Austin stakeholders came together March 23 at Crockett High School for a community design workshop to discuss their ideas about local commercial development as part of the South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan.

The SACNP is part of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, which the city established in 2008 to direct Austin's growth and redevelopment for the next 30 years. As part of the yearlong SACNP planning process, residents and property owners in the Westgate, South Manchaca and Garrison Park neighborhoods meet with city staff and identify where they want to see development.

On March 23, participants focused on potential commercial improvements that could be made to the planning area's "civic center," which encompasses the area around the intersection of Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road that includes Crockett High School, ACC South Austin Campus, the Manchaca Road Branch Library and local businesses, City Planner Francis Reilly said.

"We wanted to turn people loose and see what they would come up with," he said, explaining attendees looked at maps of the area and shared ideas on how to make it more appealing, walkable and efficient. "I think we have a pretty good idea of what walkable means, but I think by having people illustrate that, it really does a better job of capturing it."

Attendees at one table suggested replacing the intersection of Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road with a roundabout, while others discussed completely redeveloping the Cherry Creek Plaza shopping center located at 5700 Manchaca Road, Reilly said.

Other suggestions included:

  • add public space with amphitheater on the northwest corner of Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road;
  • increase neighborhood connectivity;
  • add bike racks within 100 feet of every business;
  • establish community gatherings such as farmers markets and parades;
  • create streetscape that is safe, accessible, attractive and green
  • add native trees for shade and landscaping to add more green space;
  • connect the north and south sides of Stassney Lane to create a gathering space;
  • establish shared parking structure for destination shopping and dining;
  • identify and label traveling spaces for cars, cyclists, pedestrians
  • redevelop properties with buildings moved closer to the street and parking behind buildings;
  • establish a brand and sense of identity for the community that includes added destinations for events featuring music and art;
  • redesign the Cherry Creek Plaza shopping center with vertical mixed use and an iconic building; and
  • change Manchaca Library entrance and exit.

Another workshop is scheduled to be held sometime in May to continue earlier discussions of some of the different areas or "character districts" within the planning area, he said.

"We're going to go through and try to find some common themes in the maps and illustrations people drew for us and try to come up with sort of a refined character district plan and probably a map," Reilly said.

Dates of upcoming events and additional information about the SACNP is posted at https://www.austintexas.gov/department/south-austin-combined-neighborhood-plan.

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