City to host meeting on downtown’s future

The city of Austin is looking for input on the future of the downtown area.

Representatives from consultant firms CR Planning and SEH will be in Austin Monday to gather input from area organizations and residents on Austin’s downtown master plan, the guiding document to plan out changes to the city’s central business district over the next few years.

A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. inside City Council Chambers. All are invited to attend to give ideas for the downtown area, from more residential housing to city parking.

The city hired two firms in May to update its master plan after several major projects have been announced in the downtown area.

Community Development Director Craig Hoium said downtown master plans are redone whenever unexpected major projects, such as Vision 2020 initiatives like the Downtown Utilities Plant Committee, or the Spam Museum relocation, take place.

“All three of those developments are very substantial and could bring a new face to the downtown area,” Hoium said.

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

CR Planning and SEH staff will spend three months gathering input and research from the city and local organizations, creating a plan based on the city’s desires and trends, and getting community input on the master plan.

The firms will meet with several groups on Monday, including Hormel Foods Corp., the Main Street Project and other area organizations.

The firms will take input on existing goals, sustainability, transportation, natural resource and recreational issues, city regulations and other elements to create what they call a “straw man” plan reflecting the city’s data and residential input. After the city and other area organizations review the plan, the firms will create a finalized downtown master plan and present it to the community for further review.

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