The City of Austin has announced it received a grant from the American Institute of Architects to further develop and beautify land south of Lady Bird Lake.
The grant targets the South Shore Central subdistrict, bounded by Lady Bird Lake, South First Street to the west and East Bouldin Creek to the south and west. Austin is one of seven communities nationwide selected by the AIA to receive the grant this year.
AIA representatives visited Austin on Jan. 9 to meet with city planners and members of the Waterfront Planning Advisory Board and to also tour the area the grant will benefit.
Alan Holt, principal planner for the City of Austin Urban Design Division, said change is inevitable for the area due to increased pressures to accommodate future growth. Additionally, the subdistrict has numerous lots for sale, several chaotic streets needing reconstruction and a poorly maintained and underutilized section of the Hike and Bike Trail along the lake.
“The city and everyone recognizes that Lady Bird Lake is a precious jewel and resource and we all want to do right by it,” Holt said.
According to Joel Mills, director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design, each selected community must provide a one-time $5,000 cash match to demonstrate its commitment toward the project. AIA will pay team expenses up to $15,000, but Mills cited the estimated value for the Institute’s expert assistance to be around $200,000.
Mills said the fact that AIA has previously worked with the City of Austin on projects during the 1980s and 1990s helped during the selection process.
“Austin has a proud tradition of implementation and producing action,” Mills stated. “The city knows how to get things done and build relationships for the future.”
Holt said the hope for the waterfront section is to create an area where residents and tourists will be able to spend more time, both the day and night, compared to solely having bike and hike trails.
The next step of the planning process includes a visit this spring from a national team of architects and urban planners assembled by AIA to collaborate with public officials, community leaders and residents.