Many know Austin as the “Live Music Capital of the World”, but it offers so much more than just its music. Austin is filled with an innovative spirit that drives change in each and every industry. It boasts a diverse mix of award-winning restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, tons of entertainment, and there’s no denying its natural beauty.
The natural beauty of Austin is integrated with the urban core, with multiple green spaces including the Shoal Creek and Waller Creek greenbelts and the string of parks interconnected by the Ann & Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike that stretch along the shores of Lady Bird Lake.
In the past decade, there has been a dramatic shift in homeowners trading in their single family homes for a life of convenience in downtown Austin. High rises have become the most popular housing trend in the capital city, attracting every age demographic, due to their centralized proximity to all that downtown offers. The city is revisiting its roots by innovating and restoring many districts, business establishments, residential buildings, office buildings, and parks for its residents to enjoy. Austin is evolving but, as always, it’s keeping it weird.
When Will Wynn served as mayor, he set a goal to bring 25,000 residents to downtown Austin. In 2005 there were only 5,000 people living here. Today, there are over 14,000 downtown dwellers, and this number should continue to rise with the new wave of condominiums and apartments expected to deliver by year-end.
In addition to downtown Austin’s growing residential density, over 8 million square feet of office space is planned or under construction, which has the potential to add over 50,000 new jobs in the heart of the city — on top of the more than 90,000 people who currently work downtown.
Due to the vast amount of green space and close proximity to some of Austin’s favorite hotspots like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Lady Bird Lake, and The New Central Library — the Seaholm District is one of the fastest growing residential areas in downtown Austin.
This district has been completely transformed with the help of multiple private and public partnerships which worked together to recreate the area. The former Seaholm Power Plant transformed into the Seaholm Redevelopment consisting of 1.5 acres of parkland, creative office, retail, restaurants, Trader Joe’s and the Seaholm Residences. The former Electric Control Center now houses The Independent, which celebrated its grand opening in July 2019. The New Central Library, which took 4 years to build and around 125 million dollars to construct, brought a whole new level of architecture, diversity, and vibrancy to the neighborhood.
Both The Independent and The New Central Library sit along Shoal Creek, which underwent a multi-year beautification period, linking the trail with Lady Bird Lake. The Green Water Treatment Plant lies on the east side of Shoal Creek and encompasses four downtown blocks. Multi-family residences, office buildings, and a hotel + condo project make up this growing neighborhood.
2nd Street District
As the shopping mecca of downtown Austin, 2nd Street District is densely packed with tons of retail shops and restaurants and also boasts classic Austin entertainment venues like Violet Crown Theater and ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Its central location within the urban core makes it a popular destination for downtown dwellers.
Red River District
These historic streets don’t shy away from keeping Austin weird. Red River serves as the backbone to Austin’s music scene and fights to preserve our title as the “Live Music Capital of the World” with iconic Austin venues like Stubb’s BBQ and Mohawk. Popular nightclubs such as Cheer Up Charlies and Barbarella also contribute to the vibrant nightlife of this district.
6th Street Historic District
Once developed as Austin’s trade and commercial district in the late 1800s, this main artery of downtown Austin has grown into a world-renowned entertainment district. Visitors will find a multitude of bars, unique venues for live music, and great Austin restaurants such as Moonshine and Easy Tiger — often housed in historic buildings that have stood for decades.
Capitol Complex & Congress Ave District
Architecturally designed to serve as the main street in downtown, Congress Avenue has served as the address to prominent businesses since the mid-1800s, and continues connecting historical downtown with the Capitol and government buildings. The first Capitol building was completed in 1888. Until 1962 no buildings were allowed to be built taller than 200 feet to preserve the Capitol view with the exception of University of Texas Tower. Today there are both state and local Capitol view corridors that preserve the view of the Capitol from different vantage points in the city. Surrounded by 22 acres of grounds, the Capitol serves as an amazing amenity to both Austinites and Texans alike.
Anchored by Republic Square Park, the Warehouse district boasts many restaurants, lounges, and music venues — many of which are housed in renovated warehouses, lending the district its name. Notably, much of Austin's LGBTQ+ nightlife scene is clustered around the 4th Street section of this district which is home to the nightclubs Rain, Oilcan Harry’s, and Highland Lounge.
Rainey Street District
In 2004 Rainey Street was rezoned as part of Austin’s Central Business District to help develop the area surrounding the Austin Convention Center. Over the past 15 years, Rainey Street has evolved from a sleepy residential street to a bustling center of activity with the construction of residential buildings — such as the upcoming 44 East Ave — and hotels, plus funky bars with outdoor patios and live music, such as Container Bar and Bungalow.
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