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The panel assesses the future potential of the city’s Healthcare Innovation District

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The battle for rebuilding Interstate 35 and the renewal of the deadlocked land development code continue to influence the shape and extent of the developing healthcare innovation district in downtown Austin.

These larger public questions were one of the points of discussion at the recent Urbanland Institute Austin Panel on planned development efforts around the University of Texas at Dell Medical College.

With the ongoing Waterloo Greenway Park program, the expansion of the Austin Convention Center, and the future of the Palm District, the Innovation District is seen as one of the forces that will influence the composition of downtown Austin in the future. Similar to the Healthcare District in the Bay Area of ​​California or the Boston Metropolitan Area, the purpose of the Austin District is to attract healthcare startups that interact and drive growth more smoothly than uncoordinated development.

A recent Downtown Austin Alliance market analysis shows that Capital City Innovation and other groups’ work to bring the right tenant combinations to the region will add $ 293 million in total to economic development. understood.

Stephen Coulston, Head of Urban Design at Perkins + Will Architect, said that future residents will maximize their investment in high-cost real estate areas in healthcare districts cut from existing city s. He said he needed a highly planned development roadmap so that he could.

In a decentralized model, anyone who comes in has to do Ouija board to figure out where they are. Despite the struggle, the Innovation District is flagging … it creates a central place for economy, place and culture, he said.

If you deliberately develop this as an innovation district with all the versatile components, you have a multiplier of 1.5. Why don’t you generate that $ 293 million worth? Not developing this as an innovation district would be a real estate fraud.

Panel members said there are potential community partners across downtown, including the Huston-Tillotson University in East Austin, but the boundaries of I-35 and its future reconstruction are the physics of redevelopment efforts in the quadrant. It will have a great influence on the composition.

Coleston also said uncertainties in urban planning and land-use priorities will continue to affect the work of bringing partners to the district.

We have some barriers and there are always stumbling blocks along the way when thinking about real estate. He said the fact that the city’s land development law updates could not be effectively passed was a problem. We are going to discuss how important it is and how it directly impacts development opportunities in this area.

One of the district’s main components is the 17-story flagship office tower under construction on the site of Blackenridge Hospital. The building serves as the center of a variety of businesses in an environment aimed at maximizing accidental interactions between researchers and creators who have the potential to drive innovation.

Life science giant Merck has opted out of a planned IT hub-centric incentive package with the city, but the presence of the company appears to be positive for the future of Austin’s healthcare research potential. I am.

Michele Van Haifte, vice president of urban design at the Downtown Austin Alliance, said this isn’t just the usual suspects in medical technology, life sciences, and bioscience. This innovation district is not only 100% focused on healthcare and health technology, but also aimed at leveraging the amazing anchors of the medical school, but to ideas that can grow innovation beyond expectations. The purpose is to keep the door open.

Photo courtesy of: Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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