On Thursday Metropolis Council authorised elevated ground space ratio for 3 new towers within the Rainey Avenue space, bringing 1,000 extra properties – 55 of them inexpensive – to the realm.

The approval of the towers might have penalties past Rainey. First, Council is about to extend the Downtown Density Bonus program’s community benefits requirements, which goals to extend the provision of market-rate and inexpensive housing inbuilt downtown and across the metropolis. 

“I actually stay up for that work being executed swiftly,” Council Member Alison Alter mentioned. 

The towers additionally spurred broader dialogue on the pressing must deal with the citywide housing and affordability disaster.

“We owe an obligation to the neighborhood to complete the Land Improvement Code work,” Mayor Steve Adler mentioned.

The authorised towers embody the East Tower at 82 and 84 Interstate 35; River Avenue Residences at 61 and 69 Rainey St. and 60 East Ave.; and 9092 Rainey at 90 and 92 Rainey St. Council needed to approve the tasks as a result of they exceeded the Downtown Density Bonus program’s 15:1 FAR cap, requesting 21:1, 22:1 and 32:1 FAR, respectively.

In alternate for the elevated FAR, the tasks will present a mixed 30 possession models at 80 p.c median household revenue, 25 leases at 80 p.c MFI, over $3 million in inexpensive housing fees-in-lieu, and lots of of hundreds of {dollars} in parkland dedication charges, a lot of which might be spent on enhancements to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Path.

Although many Council members thought that the neighborhood advantages required of the tasks have been too low, solely Council members Kathie Tovo and Ann Kitchen opposed the towers. The votes have been 9-2, with all others in favor. Tovo and Kitchen cited not solely the tasks’ insufficient advantages but additionally the realm’s mobility issues.

“The infrastructure in that space has not stored up with the unimaginable tempo of improvement and redevelopment in that space,” Tovo mentioned. Rainey, along with a lot of downtown and Central Austin, lies inside Tovo’s District 9.

Dozens of Rainey residents spoke out towards permitting the additional FAR, arguing that Rainey’s infrastructure couldn’t deal with the inflow of latest residents.

Upal Barua, Austin Transportation Division appearing assistant director, mentioned that the division is engaged on the realm’s mobility challenges. Negotiations are in progress for buying right-of-way to increase Purple River Avenue south, connecting it to the Mexican American Cultural Heart, and increasing Rainey Avenue north, connecting it to Cesar Chavez Avenue and Sabine Avenue. 

Barua additionally talked about that some “fast fixes” are within the works. The town will use the 2019 Rainey Mobility Study as the realm’s essential transportation planning doc. 

Mayor Professional Tem Natasha Harper-Madison argued that Rainey’s density makes it one of the vital livable locations within the metropolis. “It is likely one of the few neighborhoods in Austin the place folks can reside comfortably with out having to personal a automobile, particularly as soon as the Blue Line is accomplished,” she mentioned. 

“The extra housing we are able to construct right here offers extra folks entry to the advantages of residing in a walkable, full neighborhood, which implies a lot to our future objectives,” Harper-Madison mentioned. 

A number of Council members took the chance to deal with the town’s housing disaster.

“I simply wish to reiterate,” Council Member Greg Casar mentioned, “how vital it’s for us to proceed to work by means of these Land Improvement Code and housing points collectively. We’ve had a housing disaster that’s been impacting folks for a very long time.”

“As we get into Could and June, July, August,” Adler mentioned, “my hope is that in that timeframe, we’re capable of vogue a step ahead with respect to the Land Improvement Code – one which strikes us ahead and possibly doesn’t deliver into the dialogue the problems with respect to note and petition rights.”

A decide halted Austin’s complete new Land Improvement Code final yr. Modifications to the prevailing code are nonetheless doable, although different priorities have taken precedent – the pandemic, Winter Storm Uri and homelessness.

Casar mentioned it’s “intensely vital for us to deal with each the housing provide points and getting as a lot inexpensive housing subsidy for folks the market isn’t going to serve.”

“We’re all right here, understanding what you mentioned, Council Member Casar,” Kitchen mentioned. “I believe it’s actually vital for us to do not forget that each single considered one of us cares about affordability, and each single considered one of us cares about housing and density. Our votes right here don’t imply that we’re both towards or for density.”

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