Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance panel to provide leadership and expertise on economic viability and preservation of live music venues
AUSTIN, Texas – June 14, 2017 – The Economic Development Department and the Red River Cultural District Merchants Association commissioned the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to complete a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) seeking knowledge and expertise on recommendations specific to preserving music venues within the Cultural District and solutions that may be applicable citywide.
Businesses in the district approached the Economic Development Department’s Soul-y Austin Business District Incubator Program in 2015 with the goal of developing a shared vision for the Cultural District. Garnering over 75% participation among businesses and organizations in the District and stakeholders of Downtown Austin, the Red River Cultural District Merchants Association was formed with a board of directors to provide oversight and direction by addressing the many challenges identified by businesses in the District.
The District, essential to Austin’s music ecosystem presents diverse challenges as identified by the ULI TAP including safety, cost of survival in response to escalating rents and taxes, and the ability to retain and emphasize a sense of place through beautification and enhancements throughout the District.
"What makes the Red River District special? One could argue that its appeal is rooted in the fact that it is the last collection of live music venues (indoor and outdoor) that seeks to showcase local musicians and bands in a central location, within our Central Business District. Since we are the Live Music Capital of the World, having live music performed by local musicians is of comparative importance to our City, it’s fabric, it’s culture and its reputation to the outside world”, John McKinnerney, Technical Assistance Panel Chair and Principal at Castle Hill Partners shares as part of the ULI TAP.
The Red River Cultural District is one destination among a larger eastern downtown footprint of both planned and emerging projects that will have direct impact on the District. Projects to be considered include the Waller Creek Linear Park, the Innovation District, Central Health and Dell Medical District Campus, Convention Center Expansion, new commercial and residential development within the area and others. The Red River Cultural District in this geographic context, is at the forefront for future discussion on preservation and sustainability amongst the changing landscape.
Hosting over thirteen live music venues, the Red River Cultural District is the largest concentration of venues in the City of Austin. The District is home to uses that enhance and support not only the music industry but Austin’s history, foodie culture and performing spirit including the German Texan Heritage Society, Austin Symphony, Trinity Street Players at First Baptist Church, and Stubb’s restaurant which became the heart of an explosive music scene in the 1970’s.
An Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) is a service provided by ULI that allows a panel of qualified professionals who volunteer their time and knowledge on the specific TAP topic. The TAP is a two day assignment with an intensive agenda. Interviews with key stakeholders, research on existing policy and plans, a work session and presentation on findings are part of the ULI TAP process. "ULI Austin has provided Technical Assistance Panels on important issues in Central Texas including affordable housing, music and transportation. We look forward to working again with the City of Austin to help address key challenges in the region." David Steinwedell, ULI Austin Executive Director.