Development and Downtown Density

     It’s March in Austin, and that means the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival has descended on our city once again. SXSW’s arrival brings joy for some, and pain for others. Downtown becomes the go-to destination for people of all types around the county; covering everything from politics, to business, to tech, and just about anything else that can get space. It also brings tons of traffic, sky-high hotel and Airbnb prices, and long lines at most Austinites’ favorite hot spots. Developers in our city however, have taken notice of the annual event, and the revenue it brings Austin (over $350M in 2018!) to double down on development projects in the heart of downtown.

     The most noticeable part of this development is the number of cranes you see downtown on a given day. These projects include everything from hotels, to apartments, and even a good number of condos that will soon be available. They tend to be “mixed-use” developments, combining retail space with living quarters on upper floors. Many have desirable amenities such as health clubs, green spaces, and restaurants to serve residents. These efforts to densify Austin’s downtown are great ways to reduce congestion, as residents downtown will be within walking distance of what the city offers (including events like SXSW!). It’s likely those residents will work in downtown as well, doubling down on cutting into congestion. Taking advantage of their location to make attractive short-term rental spaces presents an economic opportunity to residents during large events as well.

     Large events like SXSW and Austin’s efforts to increase density work hand in hand to make our city a more attractive to place to live, work, and play. It’s a trend we would like to see continue as our city grows and is a destination for the country’s top talent.

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