There are two major City projects that will be coming together over the next 18 months that will either produce a “perfect storm” or a bright future for our historic downtown and Old Town.

The City is starting the long-awaited Downtown Master Plan Update and the Austin Ave Corridor Study, in partnership the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).  Both projects will significantly influence the potential viability and livability of the center of Georgetown.

The Downtown Master Plan Kick-Off occurred on November 15, which I attended.  The consultant, DesignWorkshop, reviewed the City Vision for Downtown and discussed community involvement in the process.  One of the more controversial issues discussed at Council this year has been commercial development density and building heights.

I know Georgetown is growing rapidly, but let’s be careful that we don’t lose the charm and uniqueness of downtown and Old Town…if we ever lose it, we’ll never get it back.

We all need to be Smart…let’s not “San Marcos” our Square!

Over the last few months, a number of developers have proposed new downtown building developments that are significantly above our existing height limit of 40 feet.  Think about it…how would a 67-foot office building (27 feet over the current height limit) impact downtown.  Not only would it tower over our Square, but it would also significantly add traffic congestion from over 360 additional cars driving through and around downtown…and where do they park?

Where some Council members have discussed possible increases in building heights, other Council members have talked about increasing the walkability downtown and around the Square, which I’m very supportive.  There has even been talk about closing some of the streets around the Square to cars…a subject for a future blog post.

During the next 15 months, there will be significant opportunities for downtown businesses and residents to provide input to the City’s consultants. I will be emailing everyone on my blog list when these opportunities occur.  I strongly encourage everyone to participate in these discussions, no matter your position…remember, it’s the future of our downtown.

The City’s Downtown Master Plan consultant recommended that Council visit a number of cities with similar development, traffic and historic preservation issues as we have in Georgetown.  The proposed cities are Bentonville AR, Franklin TN, Greenville SC and Asheville NC.  They have also proposed some Texas cities that to visit.  I hope they include San Marcos to show Council what hasn’t worked.

I think this would be a great idea for the Council to actually see how other cities have dealt with the same pressures Georgetown is facing.  I certainly plan on tagging along and I hope other residents will join me.

Now we come to the Austin Avenue Corridor Study lead by CAMPO in partnership with the City.

The Study will cover five miles of roadway running from Southeast Inner Loop to the Northeast Inner Loop North in Georgetown. The corridor study will gather data surrounding traffic patterns, pedestrian access and other transportation related information.

The Austin Avenue corridor study includes 31 intersections and speed limits varying from 30 to 55 miles per hour. Some of you might not know that the City actually owns Austin Avenue from Morrow St to Leander Road.

Austin Avenue varies considerably in junction and speed limit over the 5-mile section of road.  So, CAMPO has broken up the corridor into 6 sections to reflect the differences in the road.  For example, Austin Ave in the Downtown and Old Town is much different then Austin Ave between Georgetown High School and Northeast Inner Loop.

In late 2020, during the pandemic, I researched, with help from others, and wrote a 120-page Austin Avenue & University Drive Corridor Study.  During the research phase, I had 27 Zoom interviews with residents, University students/faculty and downtown business owners.  The Study included 135 attachments to back up my findings.

With the City’s Downtown Master Plan Update and CAMPO’s Austin Avenue Corridor Study in the process, I have decided to update my report.

Instead of issuing another massive 120-report, I have decided to release my updates in 9 much smaller sections through my blog under a series entitled “Downtown Georgetown – An Urban Village”.  Here are the tentative 9 sections (which certainly could change):

  1. Future of Downtown
  2. Transformation
  3. Moving Cars Through Downtown
  4. Pedestrians Rule
  5. Linking Visitors, Shoppers, Workers to Parking
  6. Crossing Streets Safely
  7. Making Traffic Flow Intelligently
  8. Moving Cars Around – Not Through Downtown
  9. Building and Maintaining Our Urban Village

Of course, I will still be writing posts on other current issues facing Georgetown.

Take Care…and add some imagination to your day!