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Council approves downtown master plan

The Austin City Council has a new guide to shape the city of Austin’s downtown area.

The council approved an amendment to the city’s downtown master plan during a public meeting Monday.

The city hired a firm earlier in the summer to update its master plan after several major projects have been announced in the downtown area. City officials say master plans are redone whenever unexpected major projects, such as Vision 2020 initiatives like the Austin Utilities plant or the Spam Museum relocation, take place.

Consultants CR Planning and SEH presented their recommendations for Austin at a community meeting last month, which included a parking ramp that could go at the location of the Paradise Island building on Second Avenue Northeast, development opportunities near the Austin Post Office and the old Austin Utilities downtown plant, and a renewed emphasis on making the downtown an economic powerhouse with a cultural flair along Fourth Avenue.

Though the parking ramp had an equal amount of support and dissent, many were encouraged by the plan’s emphasis on access to Mill Pond and the Cedar River, as well as other features including a proposed heritage preservation committee. Residents can review the plan on the city’s website.

The last downtown master plan was done in 2005, to accommodate the city’s Main Street Project initiative.

The plan is more of a guideline for the city rather than a mandatory policy.