Innovation Districts and Urban Rail's Economic Development Potential

Kevin Johns and Greg Kiloh of the Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, along with Dr. Bob Paterson and Dr. Paul Navratil of UT, presented a compelling case for the long-term value of infrastructure investments like Urban Rail in Austin's core. Growth is coming one way or another, but the planning and investment decisions of today will have large impacts on the outcomes of growth. The type of compact and connected development championed by the public in Imagine Austin was contrasted with other scenarios using the Envision Tomorrow analytic framework on an advanced computing platform.

Reductions in vehicle use leads to more than just changes in traffic; it can have a big effect on the economy. Money saved per person will ultimately support local businesses. That was just one of numerous findings presented by the team. To learn more, download the slide show "Urban Rail SPP Forum" and report "Urban Rail Economics" using the links below.


**Imagine what the south shore of Lady Bird Lake could be**

How can transformation on Lady Bird Lake's south shore take into account livability, financial realities, and respect for the waterfront?

On May 13, members of the SPP planning team demonstrated the SPP analytics tool to assess and compare the livability impacts of the current development trend for a portion of the south shore to proposals for a more sustainable and residential-friendly waterfront. The analytics tool also informed the design process of one proposal presented by the UT School of Architecture by testing financial feasibility. The resulting analysis of the development scenarios highlighted the need to re-think the current regulatory environment to achieve better urban design, increased environmental sensitivity, and greater public access to a valuable waterfront resource.

The south shore of Lady Bird lake is one potential site for an urban rail corridor, and the Austin SPP effort will continue to study sites along the proposed corridors using the SPP analytics tool.

For more information and to watch or download the presentation, please go to



The City of Austin’s proposed Urban Rail system is located primarily within the Central Austin and Mueller Activity Centers and has the potential to be the most significant community investment on the future sustainability of Central Texas. Urban Rail would link downtown, UT, the Capitol, Mueller Redevelopment, the airport, and the regional rail network. The City of Austin will work with the Sustainable Places Project to analyze the public return on investment of Urban Rail and associated development on the social, fiscal, and environmental health of the city.