ACC Highland will be Austin’s next mixed-use neighborhood

From mall to campus to Austin's next hot spot?

New apartments, parks and offices are being built . Dec. 15, 2016 (Highland ATX rendering)
New apartments, parks and offices are being built. (Highland ATX rendering)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Within the next 10 years, Austin Community College Highland will be transformed to Austin’s next mixed-use neighborhood.

Matthew Palmer has lived in the Highland area for 16 years. He says it could use the face lift. “I think it’s exciting. I think the residents are ready to have places to be able to walk to. For the most part, we look at it as a pretty positive thing,” he says. However, Palmer is concerned the new development will mean a bigger headache for him and his neighbors.

“I think once all the parking is removed here at the mall, we’re going to start being impacted. People [are] going to start parking in the neighborhood. Students that don’t want to pay for the parking passes for ACC are going to start parking in the neighborhood.” Palmer says that could create a dangerous situation for families in the area, “I think with all the kids in the neighborhood, now we’re going to have to really look out for them with the increased traffic.”

Work is already underway on new residential complexes and a parking garage. When the construction is completed there will be about 1,200 new units, 120 of which will be affordable housing.

The ACC Highland re-development will also bring three new parks, offices, a hotel and several trendy restaurants nearby. To make space for many of these new buildings, most of the asphalt that currently surrounds the campus will be removed. Neil Vickers, ACC executive vice president of financing and administration, says they’ve studied how to to accommodate students and future visitors of the area.

“We’ve actually engaged several parking studies to look at those future parking demands and with that we have a comprehensive plan on how much structured parking would have to go in to replace and serve all those future parking needs,” Vickers says.

Palmer feels that even with parking accommodations, many may seek out a free parking alternative in his neighborhood, which may cause him and his neighbors to prove they were there first.

“I’m afraid we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re going to have to get residential parking permits,” he says. “That’s just another fee residents will have to pay to the city.”