City of Austin to make recommendations to ‘change the character’ of 6th Street

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Seating, dining, live music or even art installations could come to downtown Austin’s Sixth Street Entertainment District, as part of a pilot program referenced in city planning documents obtained by KXAN.

It’s part of the “Safer 6th Street Initiative,” an Austin City Council-led initiative focused on ramping up safety efforts along the famous street in downtown Austin.

Referenced in the documents is a goal to “bring a wider demographic to the 6th Street District and begin to help change the character of the street.”


Austin's Sixth Street Entertainment District is located between Fifth and Seventh Streets and stretches from Brazos Street to the west and Interstate 35 to the east (City of Austin Photo)
Map of Downtown Austin’s 6th Street Entertainment District (City of Austin).

KXAN investigators have reported on violent crime increases in the Entertainment District, located between Fifth and Seventh streets and stretching from Brazos Street to the west and Interstate 35 to the east.

A potential pilot program would allow businesses in the 200 and 500 blocks of the street to use designated spaces on the sidewalk, parking lanes and part of the street for seating, dining, live music or art, according to the documents. This would be allowed when the street is closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Another potential pilot would allow the businesses on these blocks to use the sidewalk when the street is open for traffic, the documents say.

MORE: Creating a safer 6th Street: How another US city transformed its entertainment district

A second recommendation in the documents includes providing designated rideshare space for pickup and drop-off. Several locations, including the 700 blocks of Trinity and Neches, and the 400 block of 8th street, are mentioned as options.

The documents explain a goal of clearing the streets faster when bars close at 2 a.m., reducing congestion at peak hours and reducing conflicts and fights.

An entertainment services group tasked with working on the initiative has not provided City Council with this level of detail, at least publicly. Staff was supposed to provide an update to elected officials by the end of October.

The Safer 6th Street Resolution is a broader initiative that will likely lead to other recommendations.

The resolution asks the city to act in making Sixth Street safer and more welcoming. That could mean adding more lighting, changing the entertainment district’s layout or collaborating with bar and venue owners on types of safety training.

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