Over the past few years, developers have been steadily redeveloping a concentration of dilapidated rental housing just east of downtown along the waterfront and East Riverside Drive.
And yet, it just didn’t seem like a ripple effect of redevelopment along Riverside was taking effect. The redevelopments exist as a dichotomy compared to the surrounding decades-old single story shops, many with Spanish-language storefronts, and multifamily rentals that are affordably home to many students and low-income families.
However, Oracle — the behemoth corporation that specializes in database software for other behemoth corporations — pretty much just blew that stagnant dichotomy out of the water by dropping a huge anchor there.
That huge anchor is a plan for a 560,000-square-foot state-of-the-art campus the company just unveiled, which will create waves of redevelopment much quicker than gentrification and population growth would have done eventually. The company said it plans to add about 500 employees over the next few years, presumably housing the majority at the campus. To that note, the company also purchased a nearby — yet unnamed — 295-unit apartment building to house workers.
What’s interesting is that Oracle’s execs are telling the media the campus is going to be focused on attracting “millennials” which (memes and snarkish stereotypes aside) has big implications. When you think of millennials in land development terms, think “compact and connected”. This is important in the context of the previously mentioned notion that the deal could spark a sort of chemical chain reaction reverberating all the way down East Riverside, and up to East Oltorf.
Assuming Oracle is successful, they will spread the “live-work-play” ethos of New Urbanism into a stretch of the city it has never been before. Presumably, becoming a center of gravity to draw like-minded businesses and residents.
This is all well-and-good, given than in 2013 City Council adopted the East Riverside Corridor Plan, which aims to transform East Riverside from Carmageddon in a people-centric corridor connecting downtown to the airport.
Frankly, I think the City of Austin planners deserve a lot of praise, along with former Council Member Chris Riley, for pushing the East Riverside plan as early as they did. The webpage for the plan foretells that “due to its proximity to downtown and Lady Bird Lake, change is underway in the area” and Oracle just made that prophecy come true.
As John Aielli said on the radio this morning while he marveled that his home — which he bought in the 1980s for $70-something — was now valued in the $400’s: “What a time to be alive.”