In April, ACT staff met with the Urban Land Institute of Chicago and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to facilitate conversations with Austin stakeholders to discuss recommendations for revitalizing the Central Avenue Corridor. | Provided

Central Avenue represents a unifying and supportive spine through Austin. It connects the neighborhoods and districts that together make up our community, from Galewood Crossing in the north, through shopping near Midway Park and Austin’s historic downtown, past Columbus Park, and on to The Island in the south. Some of these neighborhood areas appear on official city maps and some do not, but all are important to us. 

When discussing Austin’s main thoroughfares, many people think of our east-west corridors: Madison and Lake Streets, Chicago, and North Avenues, and the Eisenhower Expressway. These have become paths that often help people navigate through Austin on their way to Oak Park or the Loop, instead of encouraging them to spend time in our community. However, local leaders are working to revitalize Austin’s main corridors and renew them as vibrant commercial districts.

Despite being a unifier of Austin, Central Avenue currently does not illustrate a picture of an inviting cityscape. Empty storefronts, underutilized buildings, and a prominent lack of grocery stores and retail businesses are our present reality. But for all that Central Avenue doesn’t have, it is important to remember what it does have. Between Harambee Community Garden, Austin Town Hall, and the Frank Lloyd Wright House, Central Avenue traverses the heart of Austin and has vast potential to be more than a simple pass-through. We propose that Central Avenue can

complement existing efforts in the community by becoming Austin’s Main Street, connecting some of our community’s strongest assets. A healthy Central Avenue Corridor consistently branded from the north to the south will support and embody a thriving and united Austin.

The Central Avenue Corridor is a key project outlined in the Austin Forward. Together. (AFT) quality-of-life plan and will address four of seven issue areas, as described below:

A graphic of the Central Avenue Corridor and how it will traverse through various other commercial, residential, and redevelopment corridor in Austin. | Provided

COMMUNITY NARRATIVE

Rewriting the community narrative will happen by revitalizing the image and spirit of Austin. By building on what Austin already has—its history, its people, and its energy—we can ensure that our community is a place where everyone can thrive and enjoy all that our city has to offer.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Strengthening new and existing local businesses, entrepreneurs, and the workforce, while also attracting new investment will build a stronger, more dynamic local economy, a critical piece of a thriving community.

HOUSING

Reimagining housing in a way that is supportive of new commercial development without displacement of existing residents will be accomplished by incorporating community engagement so that those who live, work, or have a historic connection to Austin and its physical spaces are able to participate in its rebirth.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Central Avenue Corridor will help reclaim the physical space so residents can feel a stronger attraction to their streets, and an improved sense of safety and community that has long been sought after. 

Read more about the Central Avenue Corridor in the Austin. Forward. Together (AFT) quality-of-life plan at austincomingtogether.org/qlp 

Join the discussion on social media!