ARA, CRP, E-I-E-I-O -- The Central East Scorecard

An introduction to the East Austin revitalization efforts.

Even people who live in Central East Austin can't always keep straight the flurry of agencies, organizations, documents, and acronyms that surround the decades-old effort to revitalize the area. Here's a brief scorecard:

Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA)

Created in 1996, this nonprofit holds a contract with the city of Austin to be its agent to implement an urban-renewal plan to revitalize the East 11th Street and 12th Street corridors. The ARA also has broader organizational goals to bring new life and investment throughout Central East Austin. Its 29-member board includes stakeholders of all kinds -- African-American community leaders, the surrounding neighborhoods, property owners, institutions, and the private sector. The ARA's president and CEO is former Deputy City Manager Byron Marshall.

Central East Austin Master Plan/East 11th and 12th Street Community Redevelopment Plan

The ARA's blueprints for revitalization, completed in 1999. The CEAMP, which covers the entire area from Seventh to MLK and from I-35 to as far east as Chestnut, is an advisory document that was later enhanced by the Central East Austin Neighborhood Plan (see right). The Community Redevelopment Plan is the urban-renewal document for 11th and 12th streets; it prescribes block-by-block "project controls" and (like all urban-renewal plans) has the force of law; property owners are required to comply.

Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department (NHCD)

The city office that (through federal dollars) funds the ARA and other community development projects. The Austin Housing Finance Corporation, the city's affordable housing arm, is overseen by NHCD and its director, Paul Hilgers.

Anderson Hill (SCIP II)/Anderson Community Development Corp.

The city-funded housing development between 11th and 12th streets. (SCIP stands for Scattered Cooperative Infill Program; SCIP I was the Heritage Heights project in the Blackshear neighborhood.) Anderson CDC was the community nonprofit that, with its consultant Gene Watkins (a former director of NHCD), was the original developer of Anderson Hill; the city fired them in 2000 and took over the project itself. The controversial 12th Street townhomes are part of the Anderson Hill project.

Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corp. (GNDC)

Another community nonprofit, and probably the most successful, developing affordable housing for Central East Austin, not just in the Guadalupe neighborhood (south of 11th Street), which has long been the most active of Central East neighborhood groups in Eastside-renewal politics. Mark Rogers, the director of GNDC, is on the ARA board.

12th Street Business and Property Owners Association

A group of owners and community leaders along 12th who have organized to oppose the ARA, which they say has ignored them while focusing on East 11th Street, and the CRP as currently written, which calls for mixed use (including the Anderson Hill town homes) on what they think should be a purely commercial street. The group's leader, Leonard Mann, is a former ARA board member.

Central East Austin Neighborhood Plan/Organization of Central East Austin Neighborhoods (OCEAN)

Despite the existence of the ARA's Central East Austin Master Plan, the city convened a neighborhood-planning process for Central East Austin -- just as it had done in surrounding planning areas like East Cesar Chavez, Holly, Rosewood, and Upper Boggy Creek -- and the resulting neighborhood plan (which incorporates the ARA document by reference) was adopted by the City Council in December 2001. OCEAN, a coalition group addressing issues of common concern to diverse Central East neighbors, is the successor group to the original neighborhood-planning team; Chronicle City Editor Mike Clark-Madison chaired the NPT and now serves as OCEAN president.

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