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An illustrated map of Austin, TX. Rachel Sender

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Austin faces the future

How a booming population is changing the Texas city

Austin, Texas, is changing. Once known for its music and its slackers, these days the Texas capital earns more headlines related to growth and productivity: The number of companies and people that have moved there, the booming tech industry, the festival scene.


The demographic data bears out this change: In 2015, the city’s population hit 2 million, an increase of 37.7 percent since 2005. Between 50 and 100 newcomers move to Austin every day, and the population is projected to double, to nearly 4 million, by 2040.

For city residents—and city planners—Austin’s growth has major implications. Gentrification has pushed some longtime Austinites out of their homes as newcomers move in and prices rise, and it has made the city less affordable for the musicians who built Austin’s reputation. Historic buildings face demolition or redevelopment to accommodate more residents. And as Austin struggles to make room for its larger population, officials must rethink everything from zoning to parks.

The stories in this package are a snapshot of Austin in a moment of transition. The changes to the city aren’t entirely new, but they’ve taken on momentum lately as Austinites debate gentrification, the future of ridesharing and transportation in the city, the preservation of East Austin, and a zoning code revision. As it reshapes itself to meet residents’ changing needs, what will Austin become next?


Reinventing Waller Creek

Waller Creek, once a problem for the city, is now the centerpiece of a massive renovation project—a connected "chain of parks" spanning 37 acres—that could transform downtown Austin.

Read the story here.


How South by Southwest transformed Austin

Austin’s most famous festival, South by Southwest, prides itself on its scruffy roots, but it grows larger every year—and so does its influence on neighborhood development.


Read the story here.


Uber, Lyft, and the future of transportation in Austin

The unorthodox Texas capital recently became the biggest U.S. city without Uber or Lyft. Nearly a dozen startups have swooped in to claim market share. What can other cities learn from Austin’s peculiar ridehailing situation?

Read the story here.


The fight for Rosewood Courts

Officials and preservationists in Austin are fighting over the future of Rosewood Courts, the first African-American housing project in the U.S. That the complex represents important history is undisputed, but community organizations, city councilmembers, and residents disagree about which parts of Rosewood are historic. The fight is more than technical bickering. It’s a proxy for competing visions of Rosewood and the future of East Austin: preservation or unfettered redevelopment.

Read the story here.


Recoding Austin

In 2013, to adjust for its growing population, Austin began the long process of rewriting its zoning code. The first draft is expected in early 2017, and the new Land Development Code could be a dramatically transformative document for Austin.

Read the story here.


For Austin’s music scene, change is inevitable

Live Music Capital of the World. It’s a well-known and deserved moniker for Austin—the Texas capital city has more live music venues per capita than any other city in the nation. And the center of Austin’s music community is the Red River District, a collection of about a dozen venues that, since the late 1980s and early 1990s, has operated within a four-block span on and around downtown’s Red River Street, between 10th and 6th Streets.

Read the story here.


21 high-rises that will transform Austin’s skyline, mapped

It's not exactly news to anyone who frequents downtown Austin that it's currently a hail of jackhammers, construction dust, and related detours. On the ground, though, the maze that the boom begat can be confusing. To help navigate that cacophony (both literal and spatial), we offer this guide to current construction in and around downtown.

See the map here.


1930s Greek Revival, remixed, becomes a modern home

Every week, our House Calls feature takes you into homes with great style, big personality, and ineffable soul. Today we celebrate Austin with a look at Kim and Ryan Battle’s home that retains its vintage charm while embracing modernism. The story of how it came about is a tale that smacks of architectural fate.

Read the story here.


Austin then and now, in photos

While Austin is for the most part a city that is energized by the transition from sleepy college town to, perhaps, a Major City, it is also a town that loves its nostalgia—the memories and mythologies of every Austinite’s past, even if they moved here only a month ago. It’s one of Austin's charms, really. In the spirit of that civic hobby, Curbed Austin presents illustrations that capture the ways some of the places here have—or haven’t—changed.

Read the story here.


Writers: Stephie Grob Plante, Alissa Walker, Patrick Sisson, Michael Schrantz, Nate Berg, David Brendan Hall, Mary Jo Bowling
Editor: Sara Polsky
Copy Editor: Adrian Glick Kudler
Additional editing by: Cindy Widner, Meghan McCarron
Photo Editor: Audrey Levine

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