City to finish long-awaited Red River District improvements this year


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city could finish improvements to the Red River Cultural District this year.

Bars and music venues in that area of downtown Austin have been asking for sidewalk and lighting improvements for years.

“It seems that eight years later, we’re about to start seeing some long overdue improvements down there,” said Ryan Garrett, general manager of Stubb’s.

On Thursday, Austin City Council approved a contract so contractors could finish the job. It includes pedestrian improvements to sidewalks, curbs and ADA accessibility. City documents said it will also improve lighting.

It’s part of a years-long effort to improve mobility and safety in the district. The city already fenced off an alley businesses said had become a magnet for crime.

Then, in the summer of 2019, we reported on a rash of downtown shootings that led council to fast-track funding for the cultural district’s improvements.

“Our focus is on increasing safety and perceptions of safety in that area, but also celebrating the cultural vitality of that area,” said council member Kathie Tovo, who noted the new murals at the cultural district.

The contract approved by council allows six months for the work to be completed, from the date the contract is signed.

Garrett said Stubb’s is betting on a big return of the live music industry. Venue owners are betting on the return of crowds after more vaccinations and as people become more comfortable.

He said now is the time to finish the improvements before the larger crowds return.

“To come back with some new assets, it’s important,” said Garrett. “If there was ever a time to execute those endeavors, it’s now.”

The city said there will be lane and sidewalk closures while the work is happening. The plan is to phase in the project to minimize the impact on businesses as much as possible.

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