Presentations and Meetings

January 25, 2011;

On January 25th members of the RBJ Center Master Plan Team held four 90-minute information meetings. The content of each meeting was identical. The four meetings were held at different times of the day in hopes that everyone interested would be able to make at least one of the meetings.

This was the first of three planned public information session dates. The first and most important piece of information shared with those in attendance was that there is no plan yet! Multiple options for the sites redevelopment will be crafted by the team in the coming months. Also, the team will be coming back before the public to share the preliminary plans as they are developed.

The Project Objectives were defined. These objectives are to: continue to provide safe affordable housing onsite, provide upgraded amenities, expand safe and affordable housing to the elderly, add other affordable housing and mixed uses consistent with the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan, and be good neighbors and good stewards of the land.

The Members of the Board of Directors of the Austin Geriatric Center, which is the non-profit organization that owns and operates the RBJ Residence, were identified.

The non-profit organizations which are paying for the Strategic Master Plan were identified. They include the Austin Geriatric Center, St. David's Foundation, Central Health (formerly Travis County Healthcare District), Austin Housing Authority and Austin Community Foundation.

Facts about the current residents of the RBJ center were shared including the following: the average age of the residents is 74, the average annual income of the residents is $12,500, and the average rent paid by the residents is $320 per month, which is equal to 35% of their average monthly income.

The two graphics seen below were used to explain the initial steps in the master planning process. Those steps help determine the amount of square footage that are allowed to be built on a piece of property. City of Austin impervious cover requirements restrict the amount of ground that can be covered by a building, sidewalk, driveway or parking lot (Figure A). Neighborhood compatibility requirements limit the height a building can be based on the height and distance away from neighboring buildings (Figure B).

Figure A
Neighborhood Compatibility
click to see larger image

Figure B
Neighborhood Compatibility
click to see larger image

Other height restrictions were also described including the Waterfront Overlay height restriction, which is 60' for the RBJ Center property and the Future Land Use Map included in the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan, which defines the property's allowable height as only 40'.

The explanation concluded with the observation that the impervious cover requirement in conjunction with the 40' height restriction would limit the future redevelopment of the site. These limitations would not allow for the Austin Geriatric Center to achieve some of its stated objectives.

The Master Planning Team believes that working with the local neighbors, plan options can be developed that achieve all of the Austin Geriatric Center's objectives and bring desired community benefits to the neighborhood. If this can be accomplished, there is a City approved process that would allow for the 40' height restriction to be changed to 60'.

Steps towards achieving this goal will be the subject of subsequent Public Information Session Meetings.