Member Login

City of Austin Density Bonus Program

Background

The City of Austin uses a density bonus program in downtown and other areas of the city to provide developers with additional height and floor-to-area ratio (FAR) in exchange for community benefits, including affordable housing and green building. Fees for the density bonus programs were last changed in 2014. 

In April 2021, Council voted on an emergency item to require City staff to recalibrate the downtown density bonus program and return with new fees by August. On May 20, Council voted on temporary fees that will be in effect until the new, final fees are brought by City staff and voted on by Council. 

The process for this change has been rushed and hidden, with no community or stakeholder input. The real estate community was not included in discussions of the timeline and nature of the changes, nor have we been included in the City's recalibration process.

These changes are already having an impact on downtown property owners and developers, and have the potential to completely stifle new development in downtown Austin.

We need the RECA membership's help to continue to push for density bonus fees that are developed through economic assessment and data-driven modeling.

If you would like to contribute to the conversation and encourage the City to develop reasonable fees, please reach out to Geoffrey Tahuahua, RECA's VP of Policy and Government Affairs: geoffrey@reca.org or 512-320-4151.

Density Bonus Changes Timeline

  • April 8, 2021
    • Council Member Tovo brings forth a resolution calling for the recalibration of the downtown density bonus program; item is postponed
  • April 22, 2021
  • May 20, 2021*
    • Council passed an ordinance to implement temporary density bonus fees
    • May 20 Ordinance
  • May 31, 2021
    • Temporary density bonus fees passed on May 20 take effect
      • Fees will be effective until final fees are implemented
  • July 27 and 29, 2021*
    • City staff to present density bonus program code amendment to City Council
  • August 11-13, 2021
    • Budget and tax rate adoption
      • Potential for temporary or new density bonus fees to be discussed as part of the budget
  • August 26, 2021*
    • Staff deadline for returning to Council with updated fee-in-lieu analysis
    • Earliest date for potential action on code amendment for new density bonus fees

*Date specified in April 22 resolution

Previous and Current Temporary Downtown Density Bonus Fees

Development Type District Former development bonus fee Current temporary development bonus fee
Residential Rainey Street District $5 ($/sq. ft. bonus area) $5 ($/sq. ft. bonus area)
Residential properties with CBD zoning All districts other than Rainey Street District $10 ($/sq. ft. bonus area) $12 ($/sq. ft. bonus area)
Residential properties with zoning other than CBD All districts other than Rainey Street District $3 ($/sq. ft. bonus area) $10 ($/sq. ft. bonus area)
Commercial properties with CBD zoning All districts $0 (no fees) $18 ($/sq. ft. bonus area)
Commercial properties with zoning other than CBD All districts $0 (no fees) $12 ($/sq. ft. bonus area)

Information from the City of Austin. 

The former fees were in effect from 2014 to May 30, 2021. The current temporary fees have been in effect since may 31, 2021, and will remain in effect until Council votes on and the City implements final new fees through the process outlined in the April 22 resolution.

 

Information is current as of June 21, 2021.