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Downtown Austin Alliance Announces FY 24-25 Budget & Milestones

April 10, 2024

Includes a substantial investment in safety initiatives, among other priorities 

By Dewitt Peart 

Our work at the Downtown Austin Alliance (Downtown Alliance) is guided by the community’s Downtown Vision and our five-year strategic plan. While achieving the long-term vision for downtown will take decades, we break the work up into annual milestones to ensure we are on track. We must be flexible in our work to respond to factors outside our control, including economic headwinds, the effects of remote work and major infrastructure projects. 

The Downtown Alliance board of directors approved the FY 24-25 budget and annual milestones at their April 10 meeting, which includes substantial increases in safety initiatives as well as more programs to increase vitality and activate public spaces throughout downtown. 

This year’s budget increases and priorities are in direct response to what we heard from our members – to counteract challenges downtown stakeholders, including street-level businesses, are experiencing every day.  

Public Space Experience 

We are substantially increasing the number of Downtown Ambassadors – from 60 to 91 FTEs – meaning you will see a much more significant presence downtown. 

This includes launching a new Ambassador Safety Patrol focusing on public order and quality of life issues. They will patrol on bikes daily, implement a nighttime truck patrol Wednesday – Saturday focused on dining and entertainment districts and provide nighttime security in Republic Square. Our ambassadors can ask for compliance and report crimes, though they must rely on our partners at the Austin Police Department to carry out enforcement. 

Additionally, you will see an increase in cleaning & maintenance staff, meaning more frequent litter and graffiti removal, pressure washing and beautification/planter maintenance services. 

We are also advancing our Homelessness Engagement Assistance Response Team (HEART) outreach pilot to a year-round program with a larger geographic area. The program, launched in partnership with Urban Alchemy, shows promising metrics for interactions to build relationships; provision of food, snacks and hygiene kits, number of people sheltered, housed and diverted; as well as changes in the number of unsheltered individuals in the district. Check our webpage for monthly updates & data on the pilot. 

Maintaining a clean, safe and welcoming public space for all is foundational for any great downtown. As our central city grows, so do the challenges that come with stewarding it. That is why we are increasing our overall spending in this program area from 48% of our total budget to 54% for FY 24-25.   

Active Urbanism 

On top of a clean and safe foundation, we deliver a number of programs and projects intended to both increase vitality in downtown and cultivate arts, music and culture through our 501(c)3 and its subsidiary Parks, LLC. 

This year we are launching a new program – Downtown Austin Space Activation (DASA) – intended to activate vacant and open spaces, providing economic, social and cultural benefits to downtown. Through this collaborative activation program, we will work to close the divide between downtown and underserved communities. 

We will also continue to deliver our signature programs and events, such as Holiday Stroll and Art & Parks Tour. We work to make our city center more vibrant by expanding music and activation of public spaces while adding two new murals to downtown’s growing portfolio.  

As the steward of Republic Square, we continue to maintain the park on a regular basis while expanding programming partnerships and planning upgrades to the park.  

In addition to partnering to deliver a new mural at Old Bakery in 2024, we are expanding our park partnerships, including managing the food vendor at the historic space. 

Leadership & Influence 

We will be publishing our annual advocacy agenda, which contains priorities for all levels of government, in summer 2024. We cannot do this work alone, so our agenda and strategy include a focus on targeted, high-impact coalitions and campaigns – especially around public safety and infrastructure. We will need all downtown champions and stakeholders to make their voices heard on these issues, especially with the upcoming state legislative session in 2025, so stay tuned for ways to engage.  

Producing our economic development reports and maintaining and growing our popular educational events will be a continued priority. We will also provide more ways for you to engage on important downtown issues.  


We must be proactive to ensure downtown will remain thriving – accessible to work, shop and visit – during major infrastructure projects ahead. Construction mitigation will be our largest mobility priority this year, including the creation of an advisory group to be the voice for downtown residents, businesses, developers, and property owners to prepare for the large infrastructure projects on the horizon. 

We will continue our work on I-35 and Project Connect, engaging our downtown stakeholders in areas of the project directly impacting them and ensuring the best outcomes for downtown.  

Built Environment 

The City has put forth many land use and code updates this year, including downtown parking reforms and an overhaul of the downtown density bonus program, along with numerous other impactful code changes. We work with stakeholders and policymakers to ensure code changes create a better quality of place – a vibrant, user-friendly downtown with streamlined development processes to support smart growth for our community. 

Our engagement with downtown stakeholders and city leaders continues on transformational projects like the Congress Avenue Urban Design Initiative (street transformation) and Project Connect station designs. We will continue to be at the table, shaping the design for the downtown caps and stitches along I-35. 

Our work with the Red River Cultural District and the East 6th Street PID will continue to advance shared priorities and actions, including the need for more economic incentives and tools to support venue preservation, among other things. 

As the steward of our community’s collective vision for Downtown Austin, we recognize we cannot tackle the challenges we face as a community alone. We are thankful to the many partners we work with to reach these important milestones.  

Please join us to learn more about the work we do every day and to celebrate with us at our upcoming Future of Downtown event on May 15, 2024.  

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