Developing Stories

Visions and Visionaries

What does it mean to say Austin is a "livable city?" Given City Council's recently adopted Vision Statement – "We want Austin to be the most livable city in the country" – it would seem a policy imperative to define exactly what that appealing yet vague term "livable" means. In this regard, Austin gets help from local nonprofit Liveable City. Its victories this year include council passage of the Big Box Ordinance and the recent council vote approving the No-Sweat-Shop Ordinance (a city purchasing policy that bans sweatshop-produced garments). Other recent resolutions by the Liveable City board: "Support the Waller Creek Tunnel, with conditions that community benefits must be returned for this major public investment," and, "Call for a new, open planning process that respects community priorities in the redevelopment of Northcross Mall." To honor and help define more-livable initiatives, Liveable City presented its 2007 Vision Awards at a May 31 event themed Celebrating Public Engagement in Austin. The Chronicle has covered the civic stories behind each of the honored organizations; for details, refer to articles online at austinchronicle.com, and for a list of this year's winners, see www.liveablecity.org.


ROMA Design Group is hard at work on the initial research stage of the Downtown Austin Plan. Finishing up the first round of stakeholder interviews, begun in mid-May, the consulting group is also concluding an Analysis of Baseline Conditions. A community survey, which provides an opportunity and venue for all Austinites to chime in with their hopes and dreams for Downtown, soon will be available at www.downtownaustinplan.org. Out of Phase I will emerge an action plan with a set of prioritized recommendations, which ROMA plans to deliver before the end of the year.


Meanwhile, that visionary architect Sinclair Black is celebrating his team's recent selection to produce a master plan for the Downtown Alliance/San Antonio and the city of San Antonio. Teamed with Moule & Polyzoides, an internationally recognized California architecture and urban-planning firm, Black will help master-plan 194 acres of urban land that includes the north extension of the Riverwalk and major corridors. Black found the job award especially sweet, given that the same team was short-listed – then clumsily taken out of the running – for the Downtown Austin Plan last year, in a manner that Black found highly questionable.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Developing Stories, City Council, Vision Statement, Liveable City, 2007 Vision Awards, ROMA Design Group, Downtown Austin Plan, Strategic Action Plan, Sinclair Black, Downtown Alliance / San Antonio, City of San Antonio, Moule & Polyzoides

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