There are three high-rise towers going up, right next to each other, on the west side of downtown. This image, in an abstract way, represents those three new developments. There’s a crane for each building, along with some structural framing. These silhouettes are a proxy for the continued growth of downtown.
You might not be surprised to hear that Austin metro is in the top 10 for growth between 2015 to 2016. We now have slightly north of 2 million people with about 60,000 people moving here over that period. I was surprised to read, however, that the fastest growth is in the suburbs, specifically in Williamson and Hays counties, north and south of downtown. That means, despite all the high-rise construction, it’s not central Austin that’s growing the fastest.
I believe, however, it’s the growth of the central core that matters the most. Putting aside the issue of affordability, which is certainly a big issue. The outer counties that surround Austin look like any other place in Texas, and are not too dissimilar to many suburban developments around the country. It’s the central core that ultimately determines the character of the place, which includes Austin’s quirkiness, live music, restaurants and creative energy. Like I’ve said before, you don’t have much of a sub-urb without the urb(an) core.
The ultimate challenge is, how do you make it so that everyone who wants to, can live near the center. Brighter minds than me are trying to figure that out.
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