Austin’s Density Debate: Up or Out?

     The debate in Austin these days revolves around density: should we go up or out? Naturally, there are debates on both sides, with pros and cons associated with each. Some folks would like to live close to downtown or where they work, while others don’t mind commuting for additional space. We will dive into each side in more detail below.

     The topic of discussion throughout media seem to be how cities are becoming increasingly urban (and denser!). While this is true for cities limited via geography, those with more usable space tend to sprawl. Austin seems to find itself in the midst of this, with CodeNEXT outlining plans for both increasing density as well as making it simpler to build more housing. Closer to downtown, lots with older single family homes are being replaced with homes and ADUs on the existing lot. This is in addition to the continued expansion of multi-family housing throughout the city. Builders are including entertainment options for residents of new apartment complexes, adding to the community. CodeNEXT is also looking at reducing the height limitations currently in place. Reducing these limits will allow developers to increase building sizes and increase the number of units they can build. All in all, the conversation close to downtown centers around how to make the most of the limited space available here.

     Looking further out of the urban core of Austin, the second half of the housing question can be addressed. In addition to people looking to live close to downtown, there are those who would like additional space and more affordable living. Austin has undergone significant sprawl in recent years as it attempts to accommodate an increasing population. Demand for new housing continues to be high, adding to the need for additional homes. As Austin’s surrounding communities continue to grow, transportation will become increasingly squeezed as it struggles to keep up with larger flows of commuters. Public spending on ways to get people into Austin for work will becoming a louder conversation as this trend continues.

     This post merely scratches the surface of the issues surrounding the growth of our city. It will be a question that continues to evolve over time, and no doubt we will hear of adjustments soon. Stay tuned!

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