The future of "downtown" Austin

So I was looking at this website to rally support against the development of an apartment complex in the North Loop area:

Don’t bother commenting. They don’t want your input. Unless you’re a property owner in the neighborhood and against the development in question. I can completely understand why a neighborhood that is approx. 70% (often rundown) rentals would not want a set of new luxury apartments next door.

They’re citing traffic concerns though, which I think is a horrible strategy. Supposedly it’s going to add about 2000 new car trips per day, which is about what Grand Oaks added. That’s the neighborhood that was built across from our old neighborhood. You’d encounter 4-7 extra cars at the busiest times of day, but nothing horrible. My guess is that the developers will just get an analysis of the traffic on Koenig and probably point out that 2000 cars go through that area every 30 minutes at peak times of day (or something close to it). 2000 extra trips a day is pretty small potatoes on a major thoroughfare. Of course, it’s easier to frighten people with the image of 2000 cars, rather than pointing out that they’re probably talking about 500 cars (2/per 250 units) taking 4 trips a day.

Of course unless the city gets single district voting, chances are as the inner city gets more and more dense the desires of the residents of these sparsely populated neighborhoods will get heard less and less.

But it got me thinking again about the nature of those neighborhoods and their long term viability. The Chronicle did a writeup on the Domain this week. If you’re not up on what they’re doing out there you should take a look:

Basically, the thinking right now is that they’ll build a second downtown up North. Second downtown is a euphamism. It’s basically an endcap. If you look at a map of Austin it becomes clear that “downtown” is no longer actually the area bordered by I-35, MoPac, MLK, and the River. Downtown is everything inside the I-35, MoPac, 183, 71 loop. And if you think about the commuter rail and developments like the Domain and the Concordia redevelopment I think the eventual goal is to have downtown encompass everything from downtown to downtown north. The center of town will increasingly become a dense business district with a university and small incredibly affluent pocket communities ala Houston. I think it’s what we’re going to be seeing. I predict the next decade is going to be very interesting for Austin.

I’m really hoping that eventually I’ll be able to walk from my house all the way up to the domain through a vibrant downtown if I want to. I’ve always seen the looping bike paths that run from the UT area all the way down to the Hike and Bike trails as a promise of what Austin could be like. A place to walk and explore. With lots of people out and about. That’d be pretty cool.