Council Approves Development Bounties Near the Capitol

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Friday May 20th, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

A rule banning high-rise buildings near the Texas Capitol may soon be relaxed, opening up a sleepy part of downtown to more development.

The city council adopted a resolution On Thursday, this would allow properties currently under the Capitol Dominance Overlay — which limits building height to less than a quarter mile from the Capitol — to participate in the downtown density bonus program, granting more height (up to ‘to 400 feet for many properties) in exchange for community benefits like money for affordable housing. The resolution passed 10-0 with the recusal of council member Kathie Tovo.

“This will spur more housing, jobs and other destinations along our busiest transit corridors, which will soon host three separate light rail lines,” said Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, who sponsored the resolution. austin monitor in a report. “It will absolutely move us towards our mobility, housing and climate goals while increasing the tax base for vital city services.”

The purpose of the Capitol Domination Overlay is “to protect the visual and symbolic meaning of the State Capitol by preventing buildings near the Capitol from dominating the structure.” The rule limits building height by creating an imaginary plane that slopes upwards at a 24-degree angle from the base of the Capitol dome, keeping maximum heights below about 200 feet.

The rule change would not affect Capitol View Corridors, which preserve views of the Capitol from various vantage points via height restrictions.

Developers have increasingly looked to the northern part of downtown for new towers. Pearlstone Partners, for its part, plans to build a residential tower at 14th and Lavaca streets. While Pearlstone could build today with the overlay still in place, participation in the density bonus program would allow it to add 72 residential units to the project, bringing the total number of units to 234. The larger project would contribute 1 $072,500 to affordable housing compared to about $70,000 for the shorter project.

The Texas AFL-CIO hopes to take advantage of the change by one day building affordable housing on its property at 1106 Lavaca St.. commonality, access to workplaces, etc. to complete a project here,” Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, told the council Thursday.

The Downtown Austin Alliance also wrote in support. “With the addition of the light rail and rapid transit routes planned by Project Connect, it is essential to add a denser pattern of transit-oriented development along the downtown activity corridors. wrote Dewitt Peart, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. “We support code changes that allow for maximum development potential in downtown areas where density is expected and sites are already limited by Capitol View corridors.”

The amendment to the code will come back to the Council in the coming months for adoption.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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