100th Issue Guide 2007-2015

In February 2007, Community Impact Newspaper CEO John Garrett launched the Northwest Austin edition because residents did not have a local City Council voice. Garrett grew up in Northwest Austin and thought the growing area had been overlooked by local media in terms of coverage. Northwest Austin was the third market for Community Impact Newspaper, which began in September 2005 in Round Rock and Pflugerville. One hundred issues later, we look back at some of the topics from this edition’s first year and how they have evolved.

Concordia University Texas Construction of the softball field at Concordia University Texas will finish in late June.[/caption]

Concordia University Texas


2007


On April 13 the university closed on the sale of its former 23-acre campus near I-35 and 32nd Street where it had been located for 80 years. Concordia purchased 389 acres of the former Schlumberger campus on RM 620 and moved there in 2008. About 65 percent of the campus includes part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Relocating allowed the university to expand.


2014-15


Since its relocation the campus has grown from 1,812 students and 53 faculty members to 2,368 students and 81 faculty members in 2014. Concordia has focused on growing its curriculum with new or expanded programs such as a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree or Master of Business Administration program. Concordia also built residence halls, a gymnasium and baseball field. In June the new softball field will open, and the university will add a tennis program in the fall.



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“As we begin to now say, ‘What’s next for Concordia?’ several things have to happen,” said Don Christian, who became CEO on Aug 1. “We just finished our strategic framework, which will guide us in strategic planning for the next 10 to 12 years. One of the next steps we have to do is what’s called a heat map [or master plan] that says where can we build and what [is easiest to] build.”



Concordia University Texas


Being located on RM 620 has allowed Concordia to be the university for West Austin, Christian said. However, he said the university additionally wants to fill the needs of the greater community by being a school at which faith, learning and life-changing experiences lead to meaningful work for students and staff, Christian said.


“We really do see ourselves as a destination place for this immediate community, whether it’s athletics or fine arts or continued learning for people, ongoing education—that’s really important to us,” he said.







City Council


Voters approved changing the makeup of City Council in November 2013 to 10 single-member districts from an at-large system of representation.


However, former council members have been discussing it for years. In 2007 former Council Member Mike Martinez discussed the idea of geographic representation.


Northwest Austin-area voters elected four council members from their districts in November 2014. The mayor is still elected at-large. District 4 Council Member Greg Casar and District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool represent North Austin, and District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman and District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo represent Northwest Austin.







Toll Roads/Lanes


Toll Roads/Lanes Construction on the MoPac toll lanes is slated to finish this fall.[/caption]

In November 2006 the Texas Department of Transportation opened the region’s first toll roads on Loop 1, SH 45 N and portions of SH 130. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority opened Toll 183A in March 2007 in Cedar Park and Leander. Discussions to add additional toll lanes to MoPac and US 183 arose in 2007, but the projects did not come to fruition until later.


Construction began in October 2013 on MoPac to add one toll lane in each direction between Parmer Lane and Lady Bird Lake. Those lanes will open this fall. The agency is analyzing options for a similar project on MoPac south of the lake. The Mobility Authority is also conducting an environmental study to add two toll lanes in each direction to US 183 between MoPac and RM 620. Environmental clearance is expected in early 2016.







Metrorail


Metrorail Capital Metro’s commuter rail line opened in March 2010, two years behind schedule.[/caption]

Spring 2007


In spring 2007 development of Capital Metro’s 32-mile-long commuter rail line, MetroRail, was underway. The city’s transit agency anticipated launching the service in 2008 and completed construction on an overpass at the Union Pacific railroad tracks in Northwest Austin and train stations in 2007. However, the agency faced a number of issues that delayed the opening by two years, including employee safety violations that led to the firing of a contractor. The line officially opened in March 2010, two years behind schedule, at a cost of $105 million. MetroRail averaged fewer than 20,000 boardings each month in its first year.


Metrorail


2014-15


In 2014, Capital Metro announced a $50 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation would complement $11.3 million from the Federal Transit Authority to expand MetroRail’s service. Funding would add a second set of tracks near three train stations, buy four new rail vehicles and make other enhancements to double the frequency of the service. Additionally, Capital Metro will build a permanent downtown station near the Austin Convention Center. Design work continues in 2015, and construction will begin in 2016. These upgrades will allow the agency to boost ridership, which averages more than 60,000 boardings per month in 2014.







Office Development


March 2007




Office Development The fifth office building at Research Park Plaza will be completed in November.[/caption]

Several office buildings were under construction in spring 2007, including a four-building development called Research Park Plaza, 12515 Research Blvd.; Aspen Lake One, 13785 N. US 183; and Prominent Pointe II, 8310 N. Capital of Texas Hwy. The recession halted expansion plans at Aspen Lake, which sat mostly vacant after opening in 2008 until its sale to a new owner in 2011.


May 2015


Four office projects are under construction, including a second four-story office building called Aspen Lake Two, which Aquila Commercial plans to open in October. In November construction began to add a fifth office building to Research Park Plaza, and it will open in November 2015. Other projects under construction include Quarry Lakes III and Domain 1 and 5. One other Domain office building is in design. In 2014 three projects were delivered: Champion Office Park and Domain 2 and 7.






By the numbers

By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



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