Is Austin Ready for Car-Free Luxury Living?
Anyone who lives in Austin complains about the traffic. Are we to the L.A. scale of road rage inducing congestion? Not quite yet. But we aren't far off unless drastic measures are taken to reduce the number of cars on the roads, improve mass transit, and finish the seemingly never ending construction on Mopac (they say 2018 now... we'll see.). So has been the constant debate since 2000 when the idea of the "A Train" was introduced and met with resounding refusal by the residents of Austin.
You see, we're a strange little-big city. Those who have lived here for decades, if not generations, have a deep seeded belief that if we refuse change, change will not happen. That Austin will remain the sweet little honey pot of beautiful free-spirited artists, and good ol' boys, and musicians. However, the only constant in the universe is change and it is undeniable and unstoppable. So, here we are and it's 2017 and we are facing some truly monumental transit issues as people continue to pour into our city at alarming rates. Why? Because Austin is just that darn cool. What can we say? ;) Except... Don't move here. (just kidding)
So, it was very surprising to me when I read about a new Downtown luxury condo development which will offer no parking for its residents. Yes, you read that right. No parking. Zilch. Zero. None. The development, called The Avenue, is said to offer 135 luxury apartments plus office space, a restaurant, and a bar. The concept, and I admit it is a lofty and idealistic one with possibly great intentions, is to encourage Austinites to let go of their cars and opt for walking, biking, taking the bus, ride shares, etc. Herein where the problem arises. Austin is impossible to access, at least all parts of it, without a car. CapMetro is unreliable. Car2Go is expensive if you're of the working class. And the train only goes to very specific parts of the city. We are a car culture. So, is this simply idealistic? Or are they catering to such an elite residential clientel that are able to take personal cars everywhere they go? Perhaps. But how does that appeal to the primary demographic of Austinites? It doesn't.
Again, this is another sign of how Austin is changing and the disparity of the cost of living to average incomes. From an architectural point of view, we here at Kinney & Associates work one on one with families to ensure they are able to afford their dreams of staying in their homes while improving upon their existing dwellings while all around us there seem to be these developments going up which are designed for a customer Austin has never seen before: the multi-millionaire and billionaire.
It will be interesting to see how The Avenue progresses and if they are able to rent out all 135 luxury units. Or if it will sit empty. Only time will tell.
So, what are your thoughts? Talk to us on Twitter @atxarchitect or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Kinney-and-Associates-140772742788415/.