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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Council likes first look at downtown plan
After making the rounds of boards and commissions for several weeks, Phase One of the Downtown Austin Plan written by ROMA Design finally made its way to the City Council on Thursday. Council members praised the work that went into it, and instructed city staff to begin developing some “what-if” numbers based on some of the recommendations in the document.
In an extended review, Jim Adams and Jana McCann with ROMA Group touched on the major elements of the report, which looks at how
Adams and McCann outlined the elements of the plan tied to each of the foundations, looking at items such as transportation, parking, streetscapes, land use, cultural venues and more for each.
ROMA’s plan proposes to sub-divide the central business district into 14 districts, with a plan focused on each area. Planners drew a square around the middle of the downtown area, or the Core District, with a smaller square district on each corner. On the east side is the Waller Creek District; to the south is the Waterfront District and on the west are the Northwest and Lamar-Shoal Creek districts. There is also a Capitol District and a UT-Northeast District. Each of the downtown districts gets its own plan, focusing on its strengths and priorities.
Much of the discussion following the presentation was about transportation, both within and into the downtown district. Council Member Brewster McCracken asked
“I think each of those systems has a role to play in a mature and comprehensive transit system. You would certainly want both,”
McCracken said the CAMPO Transit Committee is also looking at transit systems that do not stop at the boundaries of downtown but link to regional system. He also discussed transit systems that link the city’s major medical centers, particularly in light of recent talk about a medical school in the city.
“There is a possibility that you could have a rail alignment, as the Mayor spoke of, that connects Brackenridge, the medical school, Dell Children’s Hospital and maybe even St. David’s too,” he said. “I think it would be very important to consider the possibility, much as
McCracken also asked about the allocation of parking in the downtown area.
“We have the perception that there is a lot of parking,”
- Improving Downtown’s competitive position in the region;
- Making it a stronger place, not just a series of projects;
- Keeping it authentic and diverse;
- Re-investing in the public realm; and
- Dedicating leadership and funding towards implementation.
Mayor Will Wynn instructed staff to look at the Phase One recommendations and report back in two weeks with dollar figures on several of the proposed projects.
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