Popular Waller Creek Boathouse may have to uproot for CapMetro blue line

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There’s a special place that sits on Lady Bird Lake that may have to move.

Staff at Capital Metro and Austin Transit Partnership are discussing proposed locations and rail routes as part of Project Connect.

“It’s kind of a hidden gem,” said Nhaila Hendricksen. “It’s tucked away and nestled in the trees, and you’ve got the Austin Rowing Club.”

Nhaila and her pup take a walk down Lady Bird Lake almost every day during the summer. The Waller Creek Boathouse is their resting place.

Plans for the blue rail that will connect the Austin airport to downtown and north Austin have it cross over Lady Bird Lake on an above-ground bridge before entering a tunnel system downtown.

The rail could take over the entire upper half of the Waller Creek Boathouse.

“We feel pretty confident that this is the best alinement for the blue line,” said Peter Mullan, Chief of Urban Design for Austin Transit Partnership.

It’s a disruption seen as an opportunity for the Austin Rowing Club, who rents the property from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The rowing club operates out of the lower portion of the boathouse, but had an event rental space upstairs.

“I’ve literally told them, great, blow through the boathouse, and let’s build a new one on the waterfront location, and possibly have the world’s first integrated community outreach and transportation space,” said Kevin Reinis, executive director of Austin Rowing Club.

Alta’s Cafe, the event space and the gym upstairs would have to go, but it may not be the end for them altogether.

“Capital Metro knows they certainly have to replace whatever space they take out,” said Reinis.

The CapMetro blue line is only at 15% of the planning process, so none of this is set in stone. At the end of July, there will be a series of public hearings to roll out what’s planned so far in detail.

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