Austin @ Large: The University Neighborhood Overlay

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The proposed University Neighborhood Overlay divides West Campus into four subdistricts, each with slightly different development rules:

• Outer West Campus: Allowable heights in this area, designed as a buffer zone, would range from 45 to 90 feet. Certain uses -- such as parking garages -- would not be allowed in this subdistrict.

• Inner West Campus: The high-rise core of the UNO, where heights could go up to 175 feet. (The Castilian is 237 feet.)

• Guadalupe and Dobie: Along the Drag itself, and in the blocks around Dobie Center, heights would be limited to 60 feet.

In all the districts, buildings would be required to "step back" as they rise higher than 57 feet (about five stories) so as to not shadow adjacent buildings. Buildings can, and in some cases must, waive the existing front-yard and side-yard setbacks and build right to the street; the UNO aims to limit the amount of nonoccupied space (i.e., parking) within the "street wall," particularly on the east-west streets.

The UNO has other provisions, such as requiring that 10% of units be affordable for 20 years and that the adjoining sidewalks be improved and well-lit. Developers who comply with the UNO provisions get to not only build taller and closer to the street, but can also waive the usual site-area and floor-to-area requirements that constrain the number and size of residential buildings and units.

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