After years of discussion, a long-held dream of creating a neighborhood that celebrates the cultural history of a historically Hispanic neighborhood in the east segment of downtown Austin is finally coming to fruition with the District Planning Initiative of Palm.
The planning area includes Waller Creek, the Red River Cultural District, Palm School, Rainey Street, the Emma S. Barrientos American Cultural Center, and the Austin Convention Center. The boundaries of the Planning District include 15th Street and Lady Bird Lake to the north and south, and I-35 and Trinity Street to the east and west, respectively.
The main goal of the initiative is to hear from as many community members as possible, especially those in the Mexican-American community and people with direct connections to Palm School and Rainey Street, where the homes have since been replaced by bars and residential towers.
“The fundamental aim of (the planning initiative) is to engage public stakeholders in developing a common vision for a downtown district that has a rich history which we know is rapidly evolving and changing on a daily basis. Mark Walters of the Department of Housing and Planning told the Environment Committee at its June 2 meeting.
The Palm School has served as the focal point for the Mexican-American community in Austin for more than half a century, Walters said. The building currently serves as administrative offices for Travis County, which plans to move the offices to a new facility on Airport Boulevard in the near future. Palm School alumni have for years advocated the preservation of the site as a center of cultural resources. Negotiations between the City and County of Travis are underway to determine which entity will control the future of the building.
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