Naked City

Maria's Not Saved Yet

Walgreens surprised friend and foe alike at last week's City Council meeting with a request to postpone until Aug. 12 the controversial rezoning of property at South Lamar and Bluebonnet, where the chain wants to build a new store – and, as part of the package, a new home for Maria's Taco Xpress, a favored south side haunt.

The chain's Austin reps say they want to address concerns about traffic; the South Lamar Neighborhood Association asserts that Walgreens lowballed its traffic-study numbers, even though these were higher than the city's own estimates. Walgreens says traffic will actually improve once improvements to Bluebonnet and to the intersection are complete, but residents fear the new Walgreens – which typically generates high-volume traffic at other locations – will lead to cut-through traffic in the neighborhood. Walgreens' supporters, on the other hand, point out that other businesses in the neighborhood – from Kerbey Lane Cafe to Pit Stop Auto Repair – also have dual access to neighborhood streets and South Lamar, but that there are enough deterrents, such as traffic-calming obstacles, to discourage a lot of cut-through traffic.

Further complicating the matter is that the SLNA and other neighborhoods along South Lamar are preparing to embark on city-sponsored neighborhood planning, and a commercial box with a national chain logo wasn't what neighborhood leaders had in mind for a more pedestrian-friendly environment.

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Walgreens, Maria's Taco Xpress, South Lamar Neighborhood Association, SLNA

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