September 16, 2016
The September RECA Ideas Forum Luncheon took place on September 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel. If you weren't there, you missed the opportunity to hear about the latest project updates and plans for development along Waller Creek.
Moderated by Sheryl Cole of Sheryl Cole & Associates, panelists included Jim Walker with UT-Austin, Doug Manchester of Manchester Texas Financial Group, Mac Pike of The Sutton Company and Peter Mullan of the Waller Creek Conservancy. A special thank you to Clean Scapes for sponsoring the lunch.
During the lunch, Manchester unveiled the design of a $6 million pedestrian bridge that will connect the Fairmont Hotel to the Austin Convention Center. The 33-foot tall elevated walkway, called the Red River Street Canopy Walk, will have an open-air, winding design. Pedestrians will get an aerial view of Waller Creek as they walk to and from the second level of the convention center.
“As a result of our collaboration, we’re able to provide not only our hotel patrons but the community at large something to enjoy, admire and embrace,” Manchester said. “And we certainly hope this sets a positive tone for future development throughout Waller Creek."
The Sutton Company also said they are committed to providing $5 to $7 million worth of improvements to Waller Creek from Cesar Chavez to the southern mouth of the creek as they develop property.
"We're starting literally from the ground up because it's not the tops of the buildings people will see, it's what's immediately around them on the ground," Pike said.
"When I started working on this so many years ago, I had no idea there would be this many positive changes," Cole said.
Walker showed off the brush clearing that has already taken place and the university's plans that are already in motion to make Waller Creek more attractive for use by students and safer for the community.
"Right now Waller Creek isn't a destination, but we are going to change that, he said. "San Jacinto Blvd. is going to become a major north/south corridor."
Mullan detailed more of the overall plans for Waller Creek, including a proposed amphitheater at Waterloo Park that could host live events and seat thousands of guests.
He also discussed the unique nature of the public/private partnership and his optimism for Waller Creek's future.
"This is a win-win-win situation for the public, private and non-profit sectors," he said. "We are coming together and producing a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts."