CREATING A LIVEABLE 6th and Lamar Community Forum
These are the comments we received regarding 6th and Lamar.
COMMENTS TAKEN FROM COMMENT CARDS DISTRIBUTED AT THE EVENT
I wish that if Borders opened at 6th and Lamar that it would soon die as did the Bagel store that opened next door to Hot Jumbo Bagel. I also wish that our city would not offer money or tax breaks to huge corporate businesses who can well afford to open somewhere else in town. I personally boycott Barton Creek Square Mall and Central Park businesses. It is easy to support local businesses. YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE THAT CHOICE AND STICK TO IT.
If everyone in this room would commit to buying only from local businesses, that would make a dent in keeping the local businesses we do have.
I live at Treadwell in South Lamar. I drive through this intersection nearly every day. Keeping the intersection negotiable is a key concern. I am more concerned that the development have character and on authentic Austin architecture thant the tenants. But I strongly support the idea of the individual businesses also having local character and roots. This seem obvious. How can public policy support this?
Developer - have small spaces. City - help small businesses start up.
I shop at Target and Barnes and Noble and have nothing against them but the mix is important. Borders is a bad idea because it is a direct competitor to the local businesses already there. Find another businesse type!
Any large "big box" type of retail business will negatively impact Austin. In:
Traffic, culture, overall quality of life. We need a "big box free" downtown.
That being said, the city should not really do anything to keep "big box" out of downtown,. Let them build and let the consumer decide. A Borders is redundant anyway. How 'bout a place for people who live, who will shop at Waterloo, BookWoman etc.
Follow the example of Cooperstown, NY - except for gas stations, there are no chains in the city limits. It's a place with plenty of individual flair and consideration for green. Didn't we learn from Intel that subsidies can come back and bite you?
Something that will support what Austin is known for = local color and live music. Couldn't we offer more venues for locally based retail? How about another venue for live music? These things are becoming endangered species in this town. Minority owned businesses? Soemthing other than the same national retail chains we can get to anywhere else in the city. Something with access to green space/hike and bike trail behind it. Opposed to subsidizing out of town business/national chains that don't keep the money local.
Something not likely to directly compete with area businesses would be nice. Something new, "small box" and likely to add to Austin culture.
Put your money where your heart is. I work in a local business and spend every dime I can in my sister and brother stores. Also - we send anyone we can not help to another local business. Support one another. Diversify, diversify, diversify. Traffic. Make it more bike friendly!
To keep the unique character of Austin alive and well, BookPeople and and independent local businesses lie it, must be support and celebrated. To introduce a national chain bookstore into a prime central "square" in Austin is to wound, possibly mortally, part of the soul of this community. Do everything possible to support the place of Book People in this shopping Mecca. If BookPeople does not thrive, Austin will never be the same! Borders is the wrong choice for this important piece of real estate. Keep downtown local!!
We will Boycott Borders!
Boycott! Action for all great places to live. Since the city cannot choose how the landowner uses their space, the city should only give incentives for smart use of the space. Incentvies for green space or inclusion of locally owned businesses.
The city counciol needs to stop giving incentives for national chains to move into Austin and threaten existing businesses. If it is such a good business opportunity then we shouldn't have to throw money at them and further burden the local taxpayers and existing local programs that benefit the citizens of Austin.
I did not get any city incentives to start either of my businesses nor do I expect it.
National chains that find it to be a deal breaker should set up shop in cities that like strip malls that have no soul. If the city is going to give business incentives to move here, there certainly needs to be more thought put into which businesses they are going to subsidize. In order for Austin to thrive, we have to have business base that contributes to our local economy. We cannot thrive as a city with an economy based on businesses supported by our tax dollars that are sent back to corporate headquarters in Delaware. As evidenced by the existing local businesses in the 6th and Lamar area, local business owners are more than capable of producing high quality and profit yielding businesses. In short, to "Keep Austin Weird" we need to create a business environment that supports local businesses. We cannot remain a unique city ( or a city with a viable economy) if we subsidize national chains that will directly compete with local business that are already in place.
As an employee one of the businesses greatly being affected by this future decision, I feel that Austin City officials are not fairly and adequately representing its citizens. If a sweeping majority of the populous try to support the existence and flourishing of independents, then its city leaders should emulate these ideas when making such weighty decisions concerning the Identity and socal prosperity of its businesses.
The Drag has lost its unique little local businesses. They have been taken over by the national chains. I don't want this to happen at 6th and Lamar! Please steer development toward local business being developed in this area. Also, look seriously at the problem of transportation in this area before deciding what should be built there. Solution: subsidize local small businesses' creditworthyness. Or put in bowling alleys, theaters, skating etc for families!
Local ( truly local) should trump national chain stores. The City should promote local. No incentives for national corporations. Incentives for developers who support creation of local business. Micro lending from the City.
I think the most important quality to preseve about 6th and Lamar and the downtown area in general is the pedestrian and bicycle orientation. I would support placing restrictions on the square footage and number of parking spaces available in new developments there. Such restrictions could have the effect of discouraging national chains and big box stress from locating there. However I do not think it is fair ( or even legal) to favor local business over national chains based solely on where the business is headquartered or where the owners live.
Waterloo promotes local mujsic - what about "music Capitoal of the World?"
National chain stores have an advantage ( name recognition) and when new people move to Austin they may gravitate to the chanin before discovering the unique/much more interesting local business. Then the local guy goes out of business.
World class cities have public transit. Why not build a multi modal transportation center in this spot? Its central, would alleviate traffic( car) bring people more to downtown to shop at local business.
Assist local business to buy their properties so they don't lose their leases.
Ideally - green space - lots of it. Work first on transportnation and parking issues before breaking ground. Tenants should be chosen for variety ( not a book store across the street from a bookstore.) Get input from the community beforehand.
The first problem to be solved is the traffic flow at 5th/6th and lamar. Traffic flow = people walking, biking and riding cars.
A movie complex would be wonderful. Homogeneity fee needs to be explored.
Create and sustain a UNIQUE shopping and restaurant destination whose profits remain in the local economy and whose character enhances the notion and reality of being an eclectic and creative city of people.
Austin would benefit from 6th and Lamar not having a large building making that intersection dark from the shadows of the building. It should be something that is open and inviting like a park. Something like a park would encourage people to live downtown creating less sprawl. I know its not going to happen because something that makes a profit, because the US is all about almightly capatalism, unfortunately.
By the way, if a Borders or the like is built at 6th and Lamar, I will not shop there. I try only to support local businesses as much as possible.
I would like to see the property divided into two or more smaller businesses. Why can't we do that?
Traffic at 6tha nd Lamar is Horrendous Now. What happens after this corner is developed? Local tax dollars should not be used to encourage national businesses that compete directly with local businesses.. .especially uniquely Austin businesses like Waterloo and BookPeople.
1. has to be an urban development and not follow a suburgan development model ( "no surface parking")
2. has to be pedestrian friendly.
3. structured parking should be wrapped by commercial/office/retail secondary space on all sides ( not just one or two)
4. Smart growth incentives are correctly applied when then encourage downtown ( as opposed to suburban) development, no matter what the tenant mix.
Where is Whole Foods ( John Mackey) in this?????
Definitely need to address the traffic congestion in this area. As a former resident of Houston, I despised getting ready for work because of the traffic. Despite 6 lane freeways, pollution has gone up as has traffic congestion. We need more bike lanes in some areas of downtown as well.
I am deeply concerned about tax entitlements at 6th and Lamar, especially when my business has experienced a 100% property tax jump since 1999. I don't mind paying taxes. I mind when national chains don't.
Bringing chain stores downtown turns Austin into DALLAS. I'd like to see the area filled with local shops, caafes, bars where you'd really wander. Outdoor tables, similar to the plazas in Europe which thrive off tourists and locals. Putting in a Target or Borders will not convince people to live in town. Cost of living is what causes suburban sprawl.
I would like to see the land at 6 and Lamar used a place where people in the community can gather and which would encourage spending at the stores ( local) already in existence. Build small local businesses, but have a common area of land where people can picnic, hangout, etc. Preserve the green area! People could walk the 6th and Lamar area and spend at the local stores, BookPeople Waterloo etc. Support small local business. Build something that will encourage walking in the area. Create something that will keep the traffic OFF 6th and Lamar. I already try to avoid driving in the area b/x of the current congestion.
NO city subsidies for major national chains!! I'm not sure why the city feels that by bringing "Anywhere, USA" into downtown that will improve the quality of life here? And that those that do make choices that continue to eat away at what is truly Austin. Its high time that the city LISTEN to the people, the taxpayers, the people who live and work here. Please stop asking our opinion and then doing what you want regardless. Please look at the long term effects of the choices you make now. Aside : why couldn't the space be turned into green space? Imagine a park near 6th and Lamar, right there - people reading ( Book People), eating (Whole Foods and other restaurants) spending $$ in shops in that entire area - talk about bringing in cash flow to downtown! And keeping it all local! We LOVE Austin as is, stop the chains! It's a shame no one from the "other side" finds this issue important enough to attend our meeting.
Please address the issue of what will become of the "old" Whole Foods building. The community has a right to know and a voice. Maybe break the space up into smaller sections so that independent businesses can afford to stay rathen than a large faceless company.
I would like to ask the City to help preserve what we love about Austin - its uniqueness., which is due to all of the wonderful small businesses like Waterloo and BookPeople . Please do not provide incentives to national chains to come to Austin. We don't want to look like every other city around the country. Please support local businesses. This is what people love about Austin and why we all live here! Please do not let Borders come to 6th and Lamar. I love Austin.
Survey to find out what people are not currently able to buy/find downtown and recruit those businesses and services to fill this gap.
Why can't the city take the $2 million incentives and dedicate it to guaranteeing loans for small local businesses, so the developer could be reassured that their investment can succeed? Developer gets his $$ and the citizens get to keep our home-grown businesses. Is that too easy?
The contested area at 6th and Lamar is an open opportunity for Austin - it is a rich resource and should be used to create long-term vibrancy as a public urban space. Develop it so there are open-air walkways through it (not just sidewalks around block buildings) with some actual green to make it attractive and environmentally sound. Open it up for multiple-use: local businesses and services that people living, working, or visiting downtown can walk to, bike to or drive if necessary. This should not be a done deal: decide to make it a beautiful, culturally vibrant space that is still economically viable. In 10, 20, 30-100 years, big concrete chains (that can just as easily be near highways and other commercial areas) will have no cultural relevance. Let Austin be a visionary, high-class city.
Make this area walkable and bicyclable. Favor local businesses. Make Lamar walkable and bicyclable. Depress the through lanes on Lamar.
Development is inevitable - however, what we can control and ensure is the quality of that development. The 6th and Lamar project in and of itself is not a bad idea - but what seems crucial is ensuring the Austin community is maintained, and even strengthened as development occurs. This can be achieved by ensuring that large corporations and chains do not come in and throw off the balance of our unique and wonderful austin community. Get more incentives and subsidies for small local businesses - the cinema was an excellent idea. Bring in businesses that will attract (not redundant) more consumers with diverse needs - diversity! We talk of smart growth but the introduction of one book store right next to another is not smart - diversity, community, and keep Austin wierd.
Designate those tax incentive dollars given to the large corporations to be spent on public art, green spaces or other opportunities to improve the environment that reflect the values and needs of the community.
One of the key issues that needs to be addressed is the concept of community capital. This is an investment in community values that goes beyond actual dollars. It is creating access to local goods and services - not only in shelf space, but in public projects that give the community a voice. We don't want to create an unwelcome environment for outside businesses; we do want to hold them to a higher level of community responsibility that accurately reflects the values of the surrounding community.
I would like to see downtown development focus less on commercial retail space and more on businesses that promote/offer community space that is not focused on consumerism!
More of a question: where is the place for common sense in this proces? Traffic is already problematic in the area.. there are fewer and smaller places for people in our downtown... autos congest and pass through (eventually as it happens on Lamar). What about "destinations" that encourage something - which isn't quantifiable in dollars, necessarily - community. Businesses that are personal and small. Entertainment and cultural destinations?
No big box chain stores in downtown. Period. Why can't we tweak the smart growth matrix to provide more incentives for small stores, not big ones? We need the smart growth program to reflect our values as a community, not just on environmental issues, but also on local business economic development, affordability, transportation alternatives, even architectural style. Please don't let my tax dollars be used to encourage national chains to put our great local firms out of business. Please don't let Austin turn into Round Rock or Dallas.
A large anchor downtown helps a compact city, but local businesses provide the color.
I think the whole foods project deserves smart growth $$ because this type of initiative is intended to defray the extra costs associated with downtown development. Sprawl is bad!
I love to shop and I love book people, waterloo, and amy's et al. I vigorously support the thoughts of the evening's speakers. But I'm eager to make the point that retail - be it local or national- isn't the only thing that binds community. Green space is so vital. I lived in Boston for a few years, and I really appreciated that there was green public space every few blocks. Places for folks to eat, nap, play frisbee, whatever. It lets the city breathe. The city needs to do more to encourage civic togetherness that doesn't involve buying something.
waterloo and book people should join forces and both move to the 6th and lamar development.
I hate borders! I don't want borders! I don't want borders because it will close independent book stores.
For a while there was some talk of a movie theater in that development. for whatever reasons that gave way to big box retail option. but going back to the idea of continuing the fun, family oriented spirit of austin, how about some family recreation development (ie bowling alley, skating rink, batting cages, etc.) there are plenty of retail stores downtown, local and national. regardless, the development should not encourage more traffic in that intersection, but should provide pedestrian and cyclist safety. also, the city shoudl take responsibility for preserving the integrity and character of austin by ensuring that incentives go towards the growth of the austin community and not the growth of corporate chains.
Why wasn't whole foods represented at the meeting re: issues at 6th and lamar? there's much to be worked out - and i don't think whole foods as a big box is what we want in the heart of austin - drawing in border's, etc. and other chains - we want local small businesses maintaining the character of austin! you have made millions on your austin base - no more concrete!
if 6th and lamar development doesn't happen, who goes there - car dealers like before? people should be looking for nationally credit-worthy businesses to go in there that don't compete with any nearby local small businesses. help make that development good, rather than killing it.
as an employee of one of the endangered businesses, book woman, i am extremely concerned about the potential big box development at 6th and lamar. besides the impending change of borders moving into the neighborhood, i am very worried about the impact of box businesses have on transportation. i don't drive a car. instead, i cycle, use the capital metro, or walk. this area of town is already extremely dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. i would like to see the development of the area account for ensuring the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
as an outsider, fairly new to austin, i have one comment. i lived in santa barbara for several years and watched a borders destroy a local book store. this not only ruined the area but replaced intellectual growth and progress with crime, graffiti, and traffic. and our only voice as residents was to not monetarily support the store. i hope this isn't our only voice once again.
random thoughts: i believe other cities have written protections against franchises (harrisburg, PA one example). no personal knowledge of legalities/economic impacts but should be researched. 2) Cost of business for small businesses - could it be lessened by alliances that allow in-bulk ordering i.e. if fresh plus and wheatsville ordered some things together from wholesalers could they lower costs to more in line with HEB? could austin independent business alliance spearhead an effort if it's realistic?
austin as a city cannot work without an effective rapid transit system and a supporting walkable streets (great streets is already on its way). only if people become more energetic, and can be made to refrain from using their cars... by an effective and fast transit system and great walkable streets (adequately protected against the texas sun).. that the city has any hope of becoming the next london or paris or etc. and yes, isn't it possible to throw out the likes of wal-mart? also, small businesses can walk/flourish only if there is a flow of people walking on the streets. streets with cars moving at 40 miles per hour cannot have successful retail. public transport - existing buses need to be improved in terms of more tighter routes - faster routes, and much better street signage! people go to wal-mart and heb because they come in cars. it's tough to find parking - so they just have to park at one destination and get everything at one place - instead of walking down a street.
as corner reaches buildout, remaining parcels of land is at a premium. obviously, decisions that are made for new development should be taken very seriously. with whole foods' decision to construct a new office tower and large grocery store at 6th and lamar, the already serious traffic problems at the intersection will be exacerbated. as a result, all new real estate decisions should focus on promoting walkable developments that service needs of immediate neighborhood and further housing development. small scale retail or commercial space for small startups should be promoted. housing developments will inevitably trend toward the higher end due to higher land prices and the demographics of the neighborhood. however, any tools that can be used for creating affordable housing should be used.
local businesses that have a net positive benefit should be given preference. bike and ped concerns must be a priority right now and it's a nightmare! the city keeps getting bruned on smart growth incentives - intel, csc, 6th and lamar. obviously, there need to be changes.
smart growth: main consideration was the environment. we need a more comprehensive of the values of austin and incorporate them into the city policy, including smart growth. it all needs to be considered. local businesses shouldn't necessarily trump anything else.
I live in this neighborhood and am a native austinite. i would like to improve the pedestrian and bicycle safety and access downtown and in the 6th and lamar area. i also supportthe local businesses - book people and waterloo and others - because they are important to the character of the city and the neighborhood. i support the basic ideas and reasons for smart growth because i love barton springs and the natural beauty of the hill country. i like the idea of subdividing the space for borders - with small local businesses. where is capital metro in this discussion?
so much to say but i need to go! issues: local business survival, transportation/traffic at 6th and lamar, the decline of austin's uniqueness. i guess what most impresses me upon leaving this meeting after living here for 1 and a half years is the fact that so many people are so concerned about an issue like this.
i have a book club at my high school which meets at book people. my members feel like we could not meet anywhere else (i.e. borders). I also wrote an article for my high school newspaper about the development.
give tax breaks to small local urban businesses!
too late for this development, but growth is not paying for itself. we must stop the giveaways. let's charge regular fees for any development - no discounts. and charge double if the development goes into and undesirable zone.
no to more big box stores in central downtown austin. yes, to working with the developer to increase residential and mixed-use development. can't the developer find smaller local businesses even larger local businesses to fill out the new whole foods project? we need to be very mindful about traffic flow in the area. we need to maintain the uniqueness of downtown austin -- dozens of local artsy, musical, retail, food-oriented businesses. we find that it is difficult to craft what it is we want, while it is easier to identify what we don't want. can we find a way to work with schlosser on that?
support local businesses. create a mall entirely of local businesses. it will be the most unique, admired mall anywhere. don't let borders books kill local businesses.
i enjoy the unique environment of austin and the small businesses available which help make austin a unique large city. the financial stress borders will put on waterloo and book people is a crime. please relocate your plan for borders, put it in an area of need. 6th and lamar is already taken care of. cut the competition, let's not homogenize the area.
i think that businesses of a different line of business than book, cd, video rental, audio/music retail should be encouraged to establish locations at the 6th and lamar development. in other words, why not have businesses that would not compete with the locally-owned businesses (book people, waterloo, etc.) in the vicinity? once upon a time target was going to open a location there. that would seem to be better for downtown since all the department retail stores are located more and more on the outskirts of town. surely there are other types of retail businesses that could be built there and be convenient to the clarksville, travis heights, and zilker/barton hills neighborhoods (among others). Another crazy idea- and i have no idea if this would be viable - is for the city to use the power of eminent domain to take over the empty 6th and lamar lots/space. take it over and use it for the public. one very important civic institution we need to improve is the public library. i work at the central library at 8th and guadalupe. this facility is, to say the least, inadequate as a cultural and educational agency. why not use this space partially for a new central library and public park? third, please help make sure whatever gets developed there makes provisions for pedestrians, bike traffic, and encouragement of public transportation use.
seeing as how Liveable City's recommendations already revolve around the preservation of local business, why not take these recommendations a step further and promote the expansion of local business venues in the 6th and lamar area. to facilitate this idea, specific incentives could be used to attract establishments that are both needed and desirable.
we should protect local austin businesses, as part of what makes austin special, i am a real estate developer and an austin voter.
has Liveable City's economic analysisbeen compared with the coa financial analysis used when incentives were approved for the austin market? such comparison could highlight the problems with limited economic analysis. since the city's problem with affordability is a primary concern to many austin citizens, we need to ensure that the city only supports businesses that do not increase the cost of living in the city, i.e. they pay their way and do not drive up the cost of living for everyone else.
the use of subsidies for the project is not in the city's best interest - not because of the large national tenants but because it is a suburban model - big box for all. The project as presented to the public so far is not the picture of an urban project. it is a suburban paradigm that has been massaged and squeezed to appear more urbane. the transportation and access have not been dealth with, which may be a good thing -we will need to be dragged into the transit age.
if this unfair and unjust city supported corporate piracy occurs, you can count on massive local demonstrations and media manipulation - not in favor of the city and their corporate bedfellows. we will fight for our rights. this is our right as americans and texans.
don't want national chains pushing local businesses out of austin! borders already has stores far north and south - they don't need to have one downtown, too, especially right across the street from book people!
don't know that laws, but: 1) doubling tax for chain stores, or stores that aren't local -- keep taxes low for local merchants. 2) allowing a certain ratio of stores/chains come in compared to local shops.
the local, unique business factor should be considered as part of any smart growth incentive package. austin should take steps to preserve long term economic growth by keeping austin unique. i appreciate the developers' situation, but i hope they will think of a different solution.
3 words: more green space. after all the development downtown, why not give the environment/cyclers/walkers/motorists a break and grow trees taller than construct stripmalls.
i have learned more of this problem of our loss of austin's identity and the economical reasons why. i know that the creative spirit of austin can come up with solutions to this problem and to save our city from becoming genericville.
some of us come into town to shop from the outer areas in austin because it's austin and where the stores/services that i prefer are located. not barnes and noble or borders or ... but this also brings to mind- what about lake travis land areas where austin is disappearing as fast as it is downtown? a travis countywide movement and solution. don't limit yourself by putting up your own borders.
when bed bath and beyond went in next door to paul's linens in sunset valley - i thought what were they thinking? where is zoning? what a bloodthirsty corporation! buy local!
it would be a real shame if what came out of these comments is that it's a bad idea to develop this property - obviously, there are a lot of difficult issues attached that have no easy answer - but if development doesn't go here responsibly, it will go to the hinterlands where its long-term effects are far worse.
we need a concerted effort to protect and nurture local small businesses like we do the music industry - eg consumer awareness - "buy austin" and reasonable fees and taxes.
1) solutions and recommendations to other developers. talk to the community first. developers tend to talk to city staff, think they have a green light, and then get committed to project and only later learn of the community issues.
could the city back the credit of local businesses? we need to back/finance/subsidize that which is valuable to the community. do we know what is valuable to us? do we have an organized voice for that? sos is the voice for barton springs. Liveable City needs to organize the constituency.
don't forget we are dealing with a success story. 20 years ago 6th and lamar was a wasteland of car lots. today we have vibrant retail and booming residential developments. be careful about "solutions" that might undermine the positive effect of the last two decades.
city council and commissioners - please hold the developers, all developers to the code, esp in terms of impervious cover allowed. this development is all concrete! make them make it a pleasant place to visit, or at least not an eyesore to have to look at - don't sell out!
most important criteria for making austin to me is diversity - diversity of businesses.
i support the development at 6th and lamar in a manner that will not compete or detract from the established local businesses of the area. i was a chairperson of a nearby adjacent neighborhood association at the time that the underground dr get and movie theater complex. i think that that development would have been great and i am saddened that didn't work out. please try to attract businesses that will support the central city, and keep us central austinites from going out to the burbs for movies and such.
i live in travis heights and i shop at whole foods, book people and waterloo. i love the fact that soco exists in my neighborhood with vulan and ecowise. i have friends who visit from out of town and state and they are all impressed with austin's ability to have wonderful self-centered neighborhoods. i was very excited initially about new development at 6th and lamar but the issue of traffic is already overwhelming. the only solution maybe flyovers to route traffic over the area with those who want to go to shop at 6th and lamar to exit and go under the flyovers - UGLY! maybe tunnels like other states have but maybe it's too close to the river. maybe development should just not happen at 6th and lamar. or, whole foods can build a bigger store with underground parking and make the rest of the land into a park. they can take the old whole foods store and subdivide it for massage therapists, acupuncturists, alternative healers and other office space and service businesses.
no city subsidies for national businesses moving to austin! please address what will happen to the old whole foods building before allowing them to move: these large buildings are challenging and impossible to fill by most other businesses and tend to remain empty. To allow a borders to move across the street from book people and waterloo is stupid, just plain simply, stupid. should the borders fail, it would leave another large box that no other business could fill.
I have to play devil's advocate. a lot of the discussion today has expressed that a borders or a best buy would make the traffic situation at 6th and lamar unbearable. this sort of implies that local businesses would not cause the same traffic problems. if that is true, then that means that more people in austin would want to shop at a borders or best buy. it seems that we're just trying to stop the average person from shopping where they want to shop. the solution to problems similar to this is to make the average austinite aware of local businesses. we need to make more people want to shop locally.
we should use the 6th and lamar location for multiple, smaller local businesses rather than 2 or 3 large national chain stores. i have lived in austin for 6 years and each year, more unique austin businesses close their doors, and generic chain stores replace them. simply put, if this trend continues, i don't want to live in austin.
i moved to austin less than a year ago, arriving from what was once the city of dallas. i watched my hometown be transformed from a city into an endless desert of corporate-owned businesses. i moved to austin to escape from the mindless stripmall of starbucks, chili's, wal-marts, and borders. now i see the virus of cultural decay already attacking my new home. don't dallasify austin.
if i could create my ideal development for that corner it would be something that looked like small town main street. a place you could stroll from small shop to small shop, finding unique treasures and local flavors, affordable restaurants, local crafts, and lots of trees. a place to sit in a cafe and people watch. a destination with underground parking, where the lamar pedestrian bridge gets an overpass for bikers and walkers. we don't need megastores downtown.
Why not lobby for the smart growth program rules to be changed to support locally-owned businesses? why not give book people and waterloo the same tax advantages as borders? why give any tax advantages at all, considering the state of the city budget?
with book people, book woman, and waterloo already in residence, why are they proposing another bookstore? they were there first. to fill that space with anyone but local businesses would be a crime. look at what has happened to the drag and north austin, or should I call it south dallas. the austin i remember from ten years ago was creative and funky and had so many interesting places to go that were uniquely austin. times change, but they don't have to at the cost of our individuality. we need to develop our city with that creative spirit in mind. we need to encourage more walking and cycling in our communities by giving them cool places to go to close by. the cost of living and thus the property values have gone up in the past ten years at an alarming rate and continuously make it more difficult for our local businesses to be able to survive. but if we can make it even easier to access these places with a better, more improved public transit system, like a light-rail or an elevated train, etc., with fixed stops at intersections where businesses would have a constant flow of foot traffic. people would be encouraged to leave their cars at home and to conveniently purchase items on their way home from work at the easily available businesses on their way. we could even use that corner of 6th and lamar as a hub for the public transit, a center near downtown to spread out from. it could house many businesses inside additional to the bus and train stations. keep austin wierd!
Tunnel on lamar under 5th and 6th from 8th/9th to rr bridge. given $58 million shortfall in city budget, why are we giving money away? Objection seems to be oriented towards kind of development - ie competition to local businesses. what about getting anchors that do not directly compete with these businesses - what about the urban target that was going to move in - movie theater in downtown etc. etc. lots of possibilities that are not borders. would/could decrease traffic because inner city folks would not have to drive to get to these places.
5th/6th & Lamar are all major arteries. It is already overcrowded much of the time. Pedewstrians, moter vehicles and bikes each interfere with the smooth flow of the other. More development means more walkers, runners, bikes, wheelchairs and cars. Unless the smooth flow of each of these forms of transportation is addressed now, the increased development will make this intersection a destination to AVOID, not to visit. Pedestrian flyovers will help all forms of pransportation move more quickly and more freely. If sidewalk to sidewalk flyovers don't work building to building flyovers might. But they must be planned for NOW.
Why don't we make ourselves heard in a language the developers understand? Be loud and prolonged about not buying from big box businesses they plan to bring in, not buying homes built in cookie cutter developments, and creating a stigma around those areas to others.
Build in from the right of way to allow for the increased traffic this will create to have an extra turn lane into the facilites. Also, as an environmentally friendly service consider rainwater collection for irrigation and other uses. Also monitor your sprinkler usage for waste and install efficent electrical systems. Give customers incentives to use a Park and Ride to get there.
Any business which goes into the 6th and Lamar area should not increase appreciably to the traffic (cars). Mixed use development with small local businesses would be best which encourage walking, biking, and minimal vehicle use. Thye city council should take a leadership role here and pressure the developers in the direction that is best for Austin. Rents must be held in line to keep our small businesses. Mass transportation throught the downtown area will help. As Bill Spellman said, there are many interlocking problems here. The solution has to address all of these.
My message to outside businesses would be that you are welcome to come and fill a need, but not to drive out our functioning local businesses out of business. I am reminded of the segregated "drag" businesses when I was at UT in the 60's. A small, organized group of us picketed and protested and negotiated to continue the awareness that integrating would be good for their business. Borders is going to make their decision on whether they can make money there.
City incentives for an all locally owned business only development.
Examples of corporate encroachment are what has happened to "the Drag". We do not want 6th and Lamar to be another Austin jewel confiscated. Is Whole Foods in bed with the developers? Neither of them sent representatives to the forum. Once again, moneyed interests denigrate the wishes of the citizenry.
LIVE COMMENTS TAKEN FROM THE MEETING
(These comments were typed in as attendees at the 6th and Lamar Community Forum stated them live)
Local businesses, local flavor of the community. We enjoy having a good neighborhood, places we can walk. We are beseiged by traffic. would prefer a local businessiness instead of a national chain.
Area around 6th/lamar is just about the worst in town for cycling. This gathering is what i like about Austin - people care about their quality of life.
Back in the early 90's entertained whole foods question, originally they were all for it because book people and whole foods and waterloo were all involved. Knew problems would increase at 6th/lamar w/traffic - now we are all up against it. Get concerned when we talk about bringing big boxes up against the hike and bike trail.
If you look at the business already in the development across the street there's already starbucks, office depot, what concerns me is that companies like starbucks that locate close to already established businesses - has shoppedestrian at waterloo and book people in the past - family lived here since 1870, it's a shame to see this situation -- wants to keep being able to shop at book people- he feels good spending his money there.
I like Austin because it's really big and it has a lot of community bookstores.
Been working for 3 years on bringing locally grown product into community + microbusinesses. Opening Austin farmer's market soon. We are all interested in turning to locally produced food and products/businesses
For the local economy of Austin Liveable City study was integral in showing that local businesses keep the $$ in Austin - loves to take out of town visitors to local shops (funky) places you can't find anywhere else- places that make Austin unique. She doesn't want to go to a place she can go to somewhere else as well.
Why do you always forget about book woman? It does impact us and we've helpedestrian generate lots of the e-mail to the council, etc.
Comparison shopping - products that are not typically available at a chain store - the most dangerous thing is the homogenizing effect
Is opposed to subsidies for national chains when whole foods, book people, waterloo have done such a good job - the city has the potential of being a truly world-class city ie paris, etc. but on a much smaller scale - any more big box development hurts long-term development of downtown and does not reach this goal. emphasis on more public areas in the new development.
Main concern is that swept away issues such as crack, loitering - property values have doubled since then - he would be insulted if the city would give any sort of entitlement to any national chain. He employs 10 people, he pays taxes for his employees.
Concerned about their jobs, I think places such as borders, etc not creative in their book selection - and local chains are not more expensive
Concerns , small business owner and Travis Heights resident- it's wrong to subsidize both local chains and small business that are local - I compete against small chains from mexico and national chains - it's the role of the small business to provide charity to small business that are providing services too close to national chains.
Concerned whole foods has invited borders to be an anchor store with them - bad enough to be big corp entity encouraging the demise of another community business - but to have come from those roots themselves...forgetting where they came from
Whole foods only decided to go into the project 7-8 months ago - the project was going to be completely diff in the 98 plans, the proposal changed dramatically from the original plan, it's the developer finding tenants not whole foods.
Most of us know Austin has been getting to one of the least affordable cities in texas - done too many things to encourage big box retailers downtown - smart growth matrix for incentives - does not reflect the city's values -- look at incentives without looking at local businesses - take a look and change the process
Why live in Austin - answer to question is liveability - quality of life. All development must be through filter of what it affects liveability - what makes this city great is its individuality. business shouldn't be given $$ to come here
What are we thinking here -- 9-year old's perspective "how come they're building a book store right across the street from a book store?" There's a great collection of uniquely local Austin businesses and I can't imagine of all the possible retail choices why are we thinking of this -- esp in neighborhood where there are so many gems there already in local business.
Austin based watching development for long time. Another tenant has been on the table for this development is REI - the 900-lb gorilla from our perspective - they are enormous. We are not pleased to think that $$ should be coming to the developer to bring competition into this neighborhood. Also transportation question is solved there's no reason to bring any further development into this area.
One thing haven't heard is from any local musicians, writers, artists. Austin known for live music scene - waterloo is the place where maj of artists sell their records- what would happen if they had to move? SXSW proximity... what are the implications? I do much of my shopping by walking in the area - transportation must be addressed - mobility for seniors, etc. - big issue for place like border's, etc. - how is that going to impact our traffic?
Bike downtown most days -- walking and bicycling purposes in this area - wants to discuss. Wants to see bookstore preserved. congress has right to reg interstate commerce - subsidies - what can we really say?
Publisher of good life magazine - aus ind business alliance - lawyer's answer - we have a unique opportunity to develop something very unique but we've considered a crackerbox approach. You can drive across america and feel like you're in the same city. What makes us different - are the local business already here but also those not yet formed - if big box business keep moving in it will inhibit growth of future local business as well. I try not to shop at big box stores but have. Here we have an opportunity to create something so marvelous and so Austin it becomes a destination in and of itself.
I think that part of what makes Austin so special is that it's a creative mecca - I first visited Austin not even 2 years ago and went to book people and waterloo - within 2 days I realized this is the kind of place i wanted to live -the kind of place that could support local business like these - they are large within our hearts - coming from the northeast wanted to be in a place that cared about the opportunity to have such local businesses.
Book people employee - wanted to bring to table regarding suppression of ideas - detriment to economy -- detriment to what we individually provide - you can't find things at corp chains that you can find at local business. -- we are narrowing our minds as consumers - think about supporting independents in all areas. If there's more homogenization this will no longer be Austin.
Hyde park small business - reiterate - if we can't find something for our customers we send them to another local business - where our $$ go is very important. Support local business throughout the city
Drive and walk and bike through 6th/lamar - its getting harder and harder there - big problem for all of us - destination and living there both. Must come up with solution for transportation that limits conflict between cars, pedestrianestrians and bicyclists at this area. In a few areas it will be far worse than it is now. If we don't this will become an area we want to actively avoid.
What happens to old whole foods building - divide into 3-4 other businesses. Developer of new 6th/lamar site will be new landlord.
Thought that architectural character is also very important to feeling like Austin/regional - traveled, been to other cities, seen developments that have local character but have chain stores. At the very least the character is local if not the businesses. It will be equally important to discuss both the character of the development and the character of the place. Looking for anchor tenant -- city of Austin should help to set things up for smaller businesses instead of big box tenants in this space. Businesses that need smaller scale spaces.
One issue is argument that borders and other retailers will encourage competition - why don't we see smaller retailers competing with big boxes in north Austin? It doesn't happen.
Moving towards possible solution angle - give those guys the opportunity to grow into larger space if that's what they want to do - book people and waterloo could grow - let local business grow into the bigger spaces so they don't get flooded out anymore.
* SWITCH TO SOLUTIONS COMMENTS * 6:46
We are all preaching to the choir - on the most base level -- talk to your neighbor who just shoppedestrian at b&n... etc. Suggest that more people shop at local business - people who you know - instead of internet or chain stores.
City Policy involved with development?
Read up on the issues. The city should not subsidize anyone. The role of city should be to shape the city in general - what many of us like about Austin but don't realize is the physical form, general scale of the city, remnants of earlier time - when people walked more, took the trollies. there are real solutions that do exist - we don't have to wait for Liveable City or downtown alliance to come up with a new theory - new urbanism - zoning reform - part of the problem-- urban mixed use environment contributes to env where people are more likely to visit local business - economists don't take into account advertising
Architect/urban planner - smart growth has been success - accounts for vibrance in downtown Austin today - certainly acceptable for incentives -- most important that residents move downtown - make quality development no matter who the tenants are.
KUT employee - there is room for incentives - only to extent that they shape our city into a place where we all want to live. That's not this current development.
Hyde park - small retail makes cities walkable, bicyclable - if there's nothing, you get in your car and drive. South congress is a success - space amenable to local businesses. Incentivize adding space spec for local businesses.
City of Austin makes no differences whatsoever in development for large organizations and small organizations - no cost breaks for building a small business in Austin - why not fees diff for small business than large?
Good to see you out here on this issue - heard lots of e-mails, concerns, etc. -- good to hear suggestions -- smart growth program - how should we look at this situation to find changes/mods for future application of smart growth program. Successful in steering development. Liveable City study was very compelling. key look at effect on local businesses and economy in comp way as possible. analysis like Liveable City could be done for future developments as well to avoid this in the future.
Think important tell friends to support local business -- even if development looks like Austin -- incentives for small local businesses - micro-lending programs to help start small business - or other programs to support local business and help start new small business
Tell developers stop making it ugly, there's too much ugly new development. Any new development needs to have really good design, which can take more local business into account. Make changes to sm gr matrix to add bonus points for small retail instead of large business. Big parking lots are not pedestrianestrian friendly.
Everybody here -- get involved -- help the developer lease the project - help him get local business instead of larger business yourselves.
Louis black's editorial very much to the point - behaviors on where do we shop, evangelize local business when possible benefits us all. Chamber of commmerce spending effort on big box retailers - how much do we want to pay to increase our own cost of living? Only the rich benefit in this case. Question the chamber, council, etc. - incentives only in reason and toward a sustainable end.
This spot is ideal for multimodal/mixed use development. We must plan for transportation. Use this as some sort of multimodal transportation hub (business, train, etc.)
We are all passionate about supporting local business and the sust of our local economy. There have been many passionate debates. We are disgusted at what's going on - sick of corporate encroachment on the culture of our communtiy - we're all sick - wouldn't it be great if Austin, the unique city we're known to be - stand up as a city and set an example for the rest of the country and be known that you can't come here into Austin and destroy our quality of life. We think about leaving sometimes, but we don't want that. It's such a tough fight.
Solutions in what other communities are doing - tax reform -- tax revenue come from prop taxes. I support smart growth effort - small business being driven out of downtown - many - they were leasors because interest deductible in leasing, not owning. New development increases property values, like gentrification. Same as neighborhoods - over-reliance on property taxes on funding local services - find a new way to do this, find a better balance - protect local businesses.
Lives near 6th/lamar - travelled a lot - seen lots of hegemony building all across the country. We need a large, paradigm-shift type solution - homogeneity fee for large retailers - we are subsidizing these businesses by paying costs like increased pollution, lower quality of life, etc. Charge a fee equal to what we would be losing with a big box retailer to help small business compete.
Comments regarding taxes, spending choices, etc. - you make a choice every time you spend money local business vs. chain store - everyone needs to become and evangelist about local business. Independent business association - directory coming soon.
Just grad from UT - seen what's happened to guadalupe - it's a tragedy - does not enjoy going there anymore. Agrees it's a global problem. Concerned with NAFTA - traffic on i-35. Population growth. Transportation is very, very important - came from houston, doesn't want to see us become like houston. Need to deal with regional problems.
Recommend to other developers - get with the community first before you plan to build, not the city staff. It's too late after this - talk to the people you will impact with your project first.
Problem in discussion is the credit-worthiness with small businesses - have intern working full-time on this problem. These are not bad people - they have tried - they need credit-worthy businesses to float their loan, national creditworthy businesses to make their project work. looking at other cities like san diego, --- these subsidies are OUR corporate money, and we should collectively decide how it should be spent.
Opened first small business in Austin 20 yrs ago. Developer should have been here tonight. If whole foods wasn't going into this businessiness, then nobody would be. Don't know what to do about the credit situation - possibly dedicate portions of all development to small business.
On way to work, driving to work - living in barton hills... getting from 11th to barton springs - sitting in traffic looking at empty space - one year ago, thinking of 9/11, wouldn't a community gardens as memorial be a great use of this land? This is one of the evils of capitalism. they probably paid too much for the property... big boxes are the quickest way to get it done. This is one of the downsides of capitalism.
Vocalize opinion - south Austin resident - so many spaces filled up with concrete - this is one of the only spaces left that's still green - if put up a huge parking lot it's not liveable.
We elected the council. The problem isn't the developer either - it's the people we're trying to save from shopping at big box retailers.
Looking at success story like s. congress - one of most vibrant areas in city - no chains on s. congress except one starbucks - one of the biggest pedestrian areas in the city. great thing about this area is that there's dirt there - need green spaces in plan plus small business. what about family features like bowling, etc. for people that live downtown to do at this space, places that aren't just about consumption?
In 95 when planning new development. in the city, incentives for development downtown - the original plan for development -- appreciated original plan... their project didn't get done. movie theater chain pulled out - struggled along - office max was built - city staff worked with them -- two lessons : financially qualify people you're giving $$ to for development - and learn when to cut your losses when there are problems. should we now still be tied to the deal they brough in 95 or 96?
Solution - demonstrations against the development - it's wrong to put a bookstore across from a bookstore - believes in demonstrations and power to the people.
Make downtown a more walkable place, liveable - need services that grow a community : daycare, laundromats - things people need that live downtown so they don't go elsewhere (drive)
City process and city council can do a lot in offering incentives to keep Austin weird - efforts for small business and local business - make it easier for local business to succeed and grow. Right now it's hard -- right now treated the same way as larger business and this isn't fair - public policy can really affect this positively.