Your recent article on the Alamo Drafthouse's plan to repurpose the Baker Center was enlightening to what the future of Hyde Park might look like [“Drafthouse Eyes New Corporate Campus
,” News, Oct. 6]. Unfortunately, I feel that Richard Weiss and the Alamo Drafthouse's project does not promote a walkable future for Austin's urban oasis. As the neighborhood population ages, and the children currently living there grow up, Hyde Park, Hancock, and Harris Park are all in need of a middle school that does not require parents to bus their children across I-35 to Kealing, or up Burnet to Lamar. AISD should use Baker as a middle school, and the city of Austin should continue to promote family housing in these central neighborhoods, and combat the current crisis of sleeper dorms.
Alamo Drafthouse should instead invest in the Hancock Center. The city can never overcome the tragedy of destroying the original Hancock Golf Course, but we can atone. The Hancock Center is one of the many outdated transit-based developments in Austin. Our city needs to reinvest in the Hancock Center and convert it into a mixed-use walkable development in order to promote a denser urban core. Redeveloping these sites, such as Brodie Oaks Shopping Center, and Northcross Mall, is also cheaper because the utilities have already been built for the site. New developments mean wasted taxpayer dollars on updating a site to meet a higher energy and water need. The Hancock Center may also lose a large tenant with the uncertain future of Sears, which would open a space for the Alamo. This is a common problem with many retail-based shopping centers. Austin must change how we think about development to meet the needs of our growing population. Otherwise, we will continue to see sprawling developments, such as the Domain and the recently announced Project Catalyst.