Capitol view corridors radiating through east Austin considered by Council

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’re all familiar with the iconic view of the Capitol from South Congress, the building serving as a “beacon” for Texas. The view from parts of east Austin is something the Austin City Council is now considering preserving as well.

The potential corridors run on Juniper Street, Huston-Tillotson University, the Texas State Cemetery, Lott Park and Rosewood Park.

Council Member Ora Houston reflected on fond memories, seeing the Capitol in full view. “As most people know, I grew up in east Austin and so I had a perfect view from my house on E. 11th Sreet,” she said.

It’s a view she doesn’t want to just be a memory, calling it an equity issue and pointing out, “The majority of the capitol view corridors are west of I-35.”

Carolyn Cornell said she settled in east Austin because of the view. “That is important to the whole community, is to be able to have free view of the Capitol,” she said. “I’m hoping that they will limit the height of the buildings.”

It’s the Rosewood Park corridor that has the Downtown Austin Alliance voicing concern.

“There is one, for sure, that runs right through the middle of this redevelopment site, this 14-acre site,” Downtown Austin Alliance CEO DeWitt Peart said, talking about the redevelopment of Central Health’s Brackenridge Campus.

“It would be millions of square feet of new space, mixed use, which would be housing, office, retail, and hundreds of millions of dollars in value. Which means tax revenue to the city,” Peart said. “The unintended consequence is, if you put in these view corridors, you’re going to limit or prohibit the development. So that’s what we’re concerned about, is that we’re losing potential tax revenue.”

Houston insists there was no ill intent with the corridor locations, which the city actually identified back in the 1980s.

“This just starts a process to look at it and see what the implications and impact may be,” she said.

While the Downtown Austin Alliance called the corridor push admirable, Peart said, “Our concern is, at what cost?”

With council’s approval today, the city manager will work to determine that and develop recommendations to extend Capitol View Corridor protections to east Austin. In two weeks, council plans to further discuss the corridor of concern that cuts through Central Health.

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