Mixed-Use Riverside Project Moves Forward

Planning Commission recommends rezoning to Council

by John Anderson

On Tuesday (June 11), the major redevelopment proposed by the Presidium Group for its properties at Riverside Drive and Pleasant Valley Road was advanced to City Council by the city Planning Com­mission, which recommended rezoning the five tracts (totaling 97 acres) on a 7-4 vote. Currently, the site contains several apartment complexes; the massive mixed-use Presidium project – which at buildout (over 20 years) could include as many as 4,700 multi­family units, 600 hotel rooms, and more than 4 million square feet of office and commercial space – has become a flashpoint for the broader civic debate over density and gentrification. Protesters turned out in force Tuesday night, as opponents testified the project will force displacement of many low-income residents.

Supporters claim that the current complexes are obsolete, and that most current residents are students who will already be leaving the area as they move on with their lives. Current zoning already allows replacement of the existing housing; if the developer takes advantage of city density bonuses allowing additional height, that would enable more than 500 income-restricted units in the new complexes.

Another point of controversy concerns Roy G. Guer­rero Park, at the northern edge of the tracts; the city's adopted plans for the East Riverside Corridor (which predate this proposal by several years) require the developer to extend Lakeshore Boulvard through the park, which may require giving up dedicated parkland. The PC will forward its recommendation to Council with additional questions about the park, water quality protections, and relocation and a "right to return" for longer-term residents. Council is expected to take up the case in August.

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Presidium Group, Riverside Drive, Austin City Council, Planning Commission, density bonus program, Roy G. Guerrero Park, East Riverside Corridor

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