Anderson Lane Station : redevelopment scenarios and regulation recommendations for Austin's neighborhood centers
Keating, Laura Elizabeth
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Imagine Austin lays out a vision for future planning efforts in Austin. The Growth Concept Map is a major component of the plan which identifies activity centers and corridors as areas with higher densities and a greater variety of uses. A recent dispute over the redevelopment of an office park has called into question the form and purpose of the smallest activity center, the neighborhood center. Reviewing Imagine Austin and similar comprehensive plan from other cities provides insight as to the form and function of neighborhood centers. Anderson Lane Station Neighborhood Center possesses many qualities of a neighborhood center including commercial uses that serve the surrounding neighborhood, pedestrian, bicycle and transit connections to other parts of the city, and a variety of housing types. However, there is a lack of exclusively rental multi-family housing, mixed use buildings, and a central gathering space. Street connectivity could also be improved to support transportation modes other than the car. Austin is currently in the process of rewriting the land development code, which will apply form based code to activity centers and corridors. Redevelopment under form based code will provide for a better pedestrian environment and allow mixed used projects. Using Envision Tomorrow to test the feasibility of redevelopment at Anderson Lane Station, the same financial inputs were applied to two different scenarios. The difference between these scenarios is the inclusion of structured parking which allows for higher density under current parking regulations. Cost of land acquisition has a major impact on development feasibility. The models performed best for parcels where the land is valued higher than the structures on the parcel. Parking requirements also drive up the cost of development by both limiting usable square footage and adding to physical construction costs. The high cost of structured parking can also be a barrier to increasing density. New regulations embedded in the land development code should be directed at achieving the goals of Imagine Austin through (1) shaping the built environment and (2) reducing the cost of development in order to make future redevelopment possible.