Case Studies : Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan

AngelouEconomics (AE) was hired as part of a multi-disciplinary consultant team to prepare a comprehensive plan for the City of Austin.  Over a two-year timeframe, AE worked closely with the lead consultant, Wallace, Roberts, and Todd (WRT), and City of Austin staff to support the creation of Imagine Austin, a comprehensive plan that will guide the city’s growth over the next three decades.  Throughout the course of the project, AE assisted WRT and the City of Austin with the following:

  • Conducted interviews and focus groups with key leaders from the business community;
  • Collected and analyzed economic, labor market, and demographic data and trends;
  • Identified key economic development issues;
  • Assisted in developing the comprehensive plan, and the “Economy Building Block”, in particular;
  • Provided support in the public participation process; and
  • Conducted a fiscal impact analysis of mixed-use redevelopment along the South Congress Avenue corridor.

As part of the fiscal impact analysis, AE analyzed the existing conditions of the South Congress Avenue study area and produced a customized model that estimated the fiscal impacts of mixed-use redevelopment on properties within the study area that are likely to be redeveloped based on their existing land use, their location assets, and the existing values of land and improvements. The calculations performed by AE serve as guidelines to assist in planning and implementation efforts related to the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. The model uses industry-standard multipliers and assumptions in addition to local information from existing developments within the study area to produce the best estimate of the future building products expected on properties that may be redeveloped.  This fiscal impact analysis estimated the following: 

  • Total valuation of the redevelopment in the study area;
  • Retail sales that will occur within the redevelopment on the sites;
  • Retail sales that will occur due to new households or employees that live or work in proposed development sites; and
  • New sales tax and property tax revenue that will result within the City of Austin due to the redevelopment.

Project Results

Nearly three years in the making, Imagine Austin has already begun to achieve some notable results and promises to generate a wide range of benefits for Austin citizens and businesses for many years.  The Imagine Austin comprehensive plan was endorsed by the Comprehensive Plan Citizen’s Advisory Task Force in February 2012 and the City of Austin Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of the plan in April 2012.  The official adoption and endorsement of Imagine Austin as the City’s guiding vision and plan is particularly notable given that the most recent official comprehensive plan was Austin Tomorrow, adopted in 1979 when the City had a population of less than 350,000.  One of the most substantial positive outcomes that resulted from the Imagine Austin planning process is the widespread engagement of citizens and broad community support for the plan, which is a true public consensus of how Austin should grow and develop over the next 30 years.  Imagine Austin will not only serve as a citywide plan that guides future growth, development/redevelopment, and public investments, but also provides a solid public policy foundation for some upcoming initiatives such as the proposed urban rail investments in central Austin as well as an overhaul of the City’s land development code and development review process.