The Austin Chronicle

Dreaming Big With Lady Bird

By Monica Riese, June 7, 2012, 4:47pm, Newsdesk

An eight-member sustainable design assessment team released its preliminary recommendations for the Lady Bird Lake Special Waterfront Project on Wednesday night. While their full report isn't expected until later this year, the early word emphasizes a pedestrian-friendly lakefront with an eye toward more housing and stronger transportation.

The team, which comprises eight experts hailing from Portland, Ore.; Philadelphia; Seattle; and Northampton, Mass., spent three days earlier this week investigating the strengths and weaknesses of Lady Bird Lake's South Shore Central – between Travis Heights and Auditorium Shores. They presented their findings Wednesday night.

According to the team, some of the weak spots in the current scene include unfriendly streetscapes, limited access to the lake, and wasted land opportunities, but the proximity to Downtown and Austin's creative and diverse community intrigued them.

Their biggest qualm was clear: "A Code is not a Vision," reads line under the PowerPoint slide featuring the Waterfront Overlay District section of the Austin City Code.

In their vision, the area along the south shore would include a "sustainable solar farm," "dancing in the parking lots," repurposing the Austin American-Statesman's expansive plot of land to host a hotel, and a transportation system that includes streetcars, with Congress Avenue operating as that network's "spine."

A full, written report is expected from the team later this year, but to learn more about the initial proposals – including the simple eight-step program to make it all a reality – you can read the team's 95-page PowerPoint presentation here. Like what you see? Hate it? Submit your own ideas at SpeakUpAustin!.

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