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Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities and most desirable places to live and do business. Austin’s downtown is the heartbeat of the region–the core of the region’s economic, governmental and cultural vibrancy. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, tourists stopped traveling, employees began working from home, conventions and live music events were canceled, and shops, restaurants, bars and music venues closed.

The Downtown Austin Alliance and Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation dedicated months to conducting targeted research and to solicit input through focused workshops with our board, staff and an array of community stakeholders. The result is the articulation of focused, urgent short-term strategies and long-term goals that promote ongoing growth and enhanced resilience. This Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience supplements but does not replace prior organizational commitments.

A Collaborative Process

The Recovery Priorities

Address unsheltered homelessness by guiding the creation and implementation of a strategy to address homelessness in downtown

Work with partners to design and implement strategies to significantly reduce unsheltered homelessness.

Reduce the number experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the downtown area by 50% by 2022.

Fund and advise efforts to deliver comprehensive healthcare services to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness downtown.

Substantially expand and coordinate programming in downtown parks and trails.

Regularly sponsor and produce arts, cultural and music events and programs in the public space.

Use activation metrics to monitor and improve results.

Activate parks and public spaces by elevating inclusive and engaging programs and experiences in these downtown spaces

Support small business and live music by elevating inclusive and engaging programs and experiences in downtown spaces

Actively advocate for needed financial support for downtown’s small, locally-owned businesses and live music scene (including shops, restaurants, bars and cultural destinations).

Ensure that street-level vacancies are creatively activated and enlivened.

Conduct a regular census of downtown storefront businesses and use it to track and ensure progress.

Execute targeted promotional campaigns under a comprehensive strategy to promote downtown’s vitality.

Promote businesses, attractions, and places, drawing local patrons to downtown.

Work with large employers to support the return of downtown employees.

Publicize downtown's appeal and promote interesting and enjoyable experiences downtown

The Opportunities

We will work with our partners to transform downtown with infrastructure and placemaking. The initiatives shown in the map below will enhance downtown’s appeal, vitality and resilience. As a part of this Roadmap, we will ensure that new public places support increased inclusion and vibrancy.

Project Connect

Create iconic transit hubs in downtown in conjunction with a robust citywide transit network.

I-35 Cap and Stitch

Lower and cap the highway; stitch our city back together with inclusive, new public places.

Congress Avenue Urban Design Initiative

Reconstruct Congress Avenue as the most vibrant and people-centric place in Austin.

South Central Waterfront Initiative

Launch a new neighborhood along Lady Bird Lake with parks, public spaces, transit access and panoramic views.

Palm District Plan

Optimize the eastern portion of downtown through careful and coordinated preservation and redevelopment of existing parks, neighborhoods and sub-districts.

Cypress and Shoal Public Space Strategy

Improve safety and access in the Seaholm District through a series of plazas, bridges and public space connections along 3rd Street.

Waterloo Greenway

Complete the 1.5-mile system of connected parks and green spaces in the heart of Austin.

Our Plan for Resilience

Planning for downtown Austin’s future requires a comprehensive and integrated resilience strategy. It will prepare us to anticipate and mitigate future shocks and stressors that could negatively impact the health of the area’s people, economy, ecology and infrastructure. In collaboration with our partners, we are committed to developing an operational and communications emergency response plan and local and regional resilience plans and policies.

We also commit to conducting regular surveys and round table discussions with our partners. We will use these continuing conversations to further inform our projects, their scope and our programming.

As we move ahead to implement this Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience, we are committed to more inclusive practices and outcomes. We will engage new partners, coalitions and develop funding tools. We will also ensure a more inclusive approach to the design and activation of public spaces. As a result, downtown will be more vibrant, more welcoming, more exciting, more prosperous and more resilient than ever. It will continue to be the downtown you will always love.

For a printer-friendly version of the Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience, click here.

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