Wednesday, February 21, 2024

City of Austin Releases Draft South Central Waterfront Regulations, Seeks Public Comments


Density bonus program designed to generate affordable housing, community benefits

The City of Austin has released draft regulations for the South Central Waterfront Combining District & Density Bonus Program. The proposal is open for public comment until March 20, and residents can learn more at three upcoming community meetings.

Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 20, the City’s Planning Department is asking community members to review the draft document and contribute their thoughts and questions online at

“The South Central Waterfront District represents a unique chance to build a destination in Central Austin that reflects the community at its best,” said Lauren Middleton-Pratt, director of the Planning Department. “It will tie into the city’s culture, with connections to Lady Bird Lake and the Hike-and-Bike Trail, views of Downtown, and proximity to South Congress and Auditorium Shores.”

A combining district groups together multiple parcels, allowing them to benefit from development regulations different from the base zoning code in the area. A density bonus program incentivizes development outcomes beneficial to the community in exchange for allowing developers added density. The roughly triangle-shaped, 118-acre South Central Waterfront District is generally bounded by Lady Bird Lake on the north, South 1st Street on the west, and East Bouldin Creek and East Riverside Drive on the south. The release of the draft Combining District & Density Bonus Program responds to City Council Resolution 20220915-090, which directed staff to create regulations supporting implementation of the South Central Waterfront Vision Framework Plan.

The intent of the Vision Framework Plan, developed between 2012 and 2016 with the participation of stakeholders and hundreds of Austinites, is to leverage coming development through a districtwide approach in order to:

  • Create an attractive and lively pedestrian environment,
  • Expand open space and build great new public spaces,
  • Enhance connections to and along Lady Bird Lake, and
  • Generate affordable housing.

Further, Council’s 2022 resolution requested regulations that create a connected, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use district where “thousands more Austinites can live, work, and play.”

City staff members will share the ideas behind the new Combining District & Density Bonus Program at three public meetings. [See below for times and locations.] Community members, whether they live near the District or not, can learn more about the draft regulations, share their opinions, take a survey, and ask questions online at:

Meeting 1 — Online

Meeting 2 — In-Person
  • Monday, March 18, 6-8 p.m.
  • Austin Public Library, 710 W Cesar Chavez St., 78701
  • Register for meeting
  • Accessible by CapMetro Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 20, 30, 801, and 803
  • Parking at Central Library or City Hall will be validated.
  • Spanish and ASL interpretation available
Meeting 3 — OnlineOnce the public comment period ends on March 20, Planning staff will review the feedback and incorporate potential changes into the proposal. Staff will also present the Combining District & Density Bonus Program to City boards and commissions, with anticipated City Council action in late May.

For more information contact Caleb Pritchard, Public Information Specialist Senior, City of Austin Planning Department