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Downtown Austin Alliance to develop and lead a “Roadmap to Recovery”

Official Press Release

Published September 24, 2020

Economic recovery and resiliency strategy will align with Downtown Vision

AUSTIN, Texas – The Downtown Austin Alliance (Downtown Alliance) will create a strategic and comprehensive plan for downtown that will spark and guide the economic recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic. Launching today, the months-long venture will proceed through the spring of 2021. The result: a “Roadmap to Recovery” that aligns with the community’s vision for downtown set in 2017. This Roadmap will serve to direct the objectives, efforts and initiatives necessary to achieve full economic recovery and future resiliency for downtown Austin.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have deployed several successful initiatives to keep downtown vibrant, safe and clean,” Dewitt Peart, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said. “As stewards of downtown, it is our duty to look to the future and drive the actions needed to ensure we re-establish the thriving city center that downtown was prior to COVID-19. Our goal is to help businesses recover and facilitate re-engagement with downtown by employees, residents, visitors and creatives.”

The project will have four phases: discovery, visioning, mapping and action.

Commencing now, and lasting until early 2021, the discovery phase will include focus groups, individual interviews, workshops and surveys to better understand how the pandemic has impacted the people of Austin. The results of these efforts will be shared anonymously with the public and serve as snapshots of Austin’s progress towards recovery, illuminating the attitudes, challenges and goals of our community. Many of the actionable ideas from the discovery phase may be implemented immediately or at any point in the process.

Based on the findings from the discovery phase, the visioning phase will focus on developing key indicators to determine what success looks like. These indicators will correspond to crucial economic segments that contribute to downtown’s vitality, including the hotel, retail, restaurant/bar and music industries.

Focusing on the key indicators, the Downtown Alliance will create a dynamic and flexible Roadmap to Recovery which will include specific priorities, pathways and milestones. The goal of the

mapping phase is to ensure downtown Austin is positioned to recover quickly as well as to endure future economic fluctuations and other events that could bring uncertainty to downtown Austin.

The action phase will consist of the Downtown Alliance realigning its work to implement, monitor and adapt the roadmap to ensure its areas of focus and programs are successfully reviving the sectors that make downtown a draw for scores of visitors and businesses to the city.

“Downtown’s success and recovery is key to the continued growth and economic stability of the entire region,” Peart added. “Across the country, communities are grappling with the challenge of rebuilding. As an organization with a sole purpose of enhancing the vitality and value of downtown, combined with the experience and leadership we have had in many of Austin’s well-known design initiatives, projects and strategic plans and vision, the Downtown Austin Alliance is uniquely qualified to lead the way for downtown Austin’s renaissance.”

The Downtown Alliance has more than 25 years of experience leading numerous advocacy, planning and design projects and events. Since the pandemic hit, the Downtown Alliance has emerged as the beacon of information and action for all things related to downtown Austin. The Downtown Alliance responded with not only a dedicated webpage for COVID-19 guidelines, mandates and comprehensive information, but also implemented increased cleanliness and safety measures, and retail, small business and commercial office management research that resulted in the creation of the Economic Recovery Index.

Additionally, the Downtown Alliance has advocated locally, regionally and nationally for downtown during this time. The Downtown Alliance has supported continuing downtown construction, inclusion in the federal Coronavirus aid package, the federal Save Our Stages Act and safe opening best practices, including expanding Austin’s Shop the Block Program. The Downtown Alliance has also provided recommendations to local and regional leadership about how the City of Austin should direct its COVID-19 response spending of CARES Act, FEMA and other funding sources. Leadership from the Downtown Alliance served on the Opening Central Texas Task Force and is now serving on the Cross Sector Economic Recovery Focus Group and collaborating with the Austin Chamber, the Urban Land Institute and Austin Area Regional Organization, among others, to accelerate an economic response.

Moreover, the Downtown Alliance is working to provide safe and socially-distanced activities and opportunities for Austinites. The Downtown Alliance has partnered with Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in Theater to create a revolutionary way to watch a drive-in movie on top of a downtown parking garage, as well as with PARKSPACE to produce a socially-distanced art installation at Republic Square that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also helps people safely enjoy one of Austin’s original public parks. The Downtown Alliance has also supported the opening of Salt & Time in Republic Square and produced virtual events, among other activations.

To pose questions, share suggestions, and/or to participate in upcoming surveys, please e-mail the Downtown Austin Alliance at hello@downtownaustin.com

See recent reports completed as part of the discovery phase of our Roadmap to Recovery:

COVID-19 Office Impact Report

COVID-19 Impact: Retail Survey

COVID-19 Impact: Downtown Office Market Survey

Downtown Alliance’s Roadmap to Recovery Media Coverage

Downtown Austin group hopes to boost economic recovery (Austin American-Statesman)

Downtown Austin Alliance Announces ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ (KLBJ News Radio)

Downtown Austin Alliance launches new economic recovery plan (Austonia)

Downtown Austin Alliance Announces ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ (News Break)

New business opens on South Congress while on the other side of the bridge a roadmap to recovery is initiated (KVUE)

FOX 7 Discussion: Downtown Austin roadmap to recovery (Fox 7 Austin)

Economic Impact & Recovery in the News 

Half of Texas Restaurants Will Most Likely Close in Six Months, Survey Says (Eater Austin)

Music Industry Rally Called for Monday at City Hall (Austin Chronicle)

Faster Than Sound: It’s Now or Never for a Music Venue Preservation Fund (Austin Chronicle)

List of Austin music venues that received COVID-19 relief released (Austin 360)

Austin Restaurants Need Financial Relief Sooner Than the City Council Can Get Funds Together (Eater Austin)

After surviving six months, Austin’s workers, small businesses are acknowledging pandemic’s long-term reality (Community Impact News)

The Eater Austin Guide on How to Help (Eater Austin)

Gov. Greg Abbott to allocate $171M from CARES Act to help renters at risk of eviction (Community Impact News)

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