City of Austin plans major changes to revitalize Lady Bird Lake waterfront

Audrey Zhang

The City of Austin is planning to renovate Austin’s south waterfront and create a lively, attractive pedestrian environment. 

Urban design staff are working on the South Central Waterfront Initiative, which will establish recommendations for developing the area. These include plans to build “green streets,” with environmentally friendly technology and construction, and walkway connections in order to create pedestrian-friendly public spaces. 

Alan Holt, principal planner in the urban design division, said in his proposal that community feedback was key in the planning process. 

“We started looking with the community for a better way forward,” Holt said. “We started that process with a grant from the American Institute of Architects. They brought experts who worked with the community, and came up with a report that said we need a district approach to increase the quality of open space and connectivity across the district … to create a great public realm and support significant affordable housing.” 

The city will host an open house on Saturday, April 30 to debut the latest information and plans for Austin’s South Waterfront. The event will include snacks, a petting zoo and interactive events throughout the day.  

Sociology freshman Sarah Jones said park renovations will give citizens the opportunity to stay connected with nature.

“I definitely support Austin investing in parks,” Jones said. “Living in a constantly growing city, you get disconnected from nature. I like having Zilker and Lady Bird Lake, which always have community activities to be a part of, because it allows me to reconnect to nature even in this metropolitan area.” 

French sophomore Niki Arar said the lake has been a key aspect of her experience growing up in Austin. 

“Town Lake has been an essential part of my life and especially my childhood in Austin,” Arar said. “I remember swimming in it during summers without realizing it was illegal until many years later. Town Lake definitely adds to the community, and efforts should be made to preserve it.” 

Arar also said any development efforts should only move forward if they do not damage the environment. 

“I support some of the plans, such as pedestrian walkways, park spaces and connections to the waterway, provided that the construction does not pollute the lake,” Arar said. “However, Austin’s expansion should not be at the peril of the environment. I think Austin only needs to invest as much into parks and recreation as it takes to preserve its currently established areas.”

“The open house event will take place on Saturday, April 30 at the Austin American-Statesman Bar Park at 305 S. Congress Ave from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.”