Urban Land Institute to Advise the City of Austin on Capping I-35 and Reconnecting East Austin with Downtown

Renowned Panel of Land Use, Planning, and Transportation Experts to Visit Area from February 23-28

WASHINGTON (February 21, 2020) — A group of renowned land use, urban planning and transportation experts representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will be making recommendations next week to the City of Austin and the Downtown Austin Alliance on capping the I-35 freeway and reconnecting the central business district with East Austin. ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 46,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving, sustainable communities.

The ULI representatives, convened through ULI’s renowned Advisory Services Program, will be visiting the city from February 23-28. Sponsored by the city of Austin and the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Advisory Services panelists will provide strategic recommendations on:

  • Enhancing multi-modal access to bring more people into the urban core via transit and modes other than driving;
  • Meaningfully addressing affordability concerns and equity impacts around the area; and
  • Creating a community vision for capping and stitching I-35 that represents the diverse voices involved in development.

The panel will be chaired by ULI Trustee and former ULI Global Chairman Marilyn Taylor, professor of architecture and urban design, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “We are honored and humbled to bring the expertise of ULI members to Austin to reconnect the urban fabric of the city in a more inclusive, equitable, and healthier way,” said Taylor. “The panel is looking forward to a week full of robust conversations with community members to design options and identify partnership opportunities to implement this large project.”

Taylor will be joined on the panel by Amitabh Barthakur, partner, HR&A, Los Angeles, California; Eliza Edelsberg Datta, president, E3 Development, LLC, Boston, Massachusetts; Connie Fan, president, LSG Landscape Architecture, Washington, D.C.; Antonio Fiol-Silva, founding principal, SITO; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Kendra Freeman, director of community development and engagement, Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago, Illinois; Ilana Lipsett, senior program manager, Equitable Futures Lab, Institute for the Future, Palo Alto, California; Michael Rodriguez, AICP, associate director for capital market research, CBRE; and David K. Scott, senior principal, DaVinci Development Collaborative, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia.

In addition to interviewing stakeholders, the panel will tour the area before developing recommendations that will be presented at the conclusion of the panel’s visit.

The panel’s visit to Austin continues a series of activities ULI has conducted over recent years to address reconnecting disparate areas of cities to each other via a freeway cap. In early 2019, ULI panelists made recommendations to Atlanta on how to best cap the I-75/85 Corridor, and in 2018 Advisory Services panelists traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to advise the city on how best to create a freeway cap that reconnected a bisected Rondo neighborhoods adjacent to Interstate 94.

Now in its 73rd year, the ULI Advisory Services program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. Panels have developed more than 700 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from waterfront properties to inner-city retail.

According to Thomas Eitler, senior vice president of ULI’s Advisory Services program, the strength of the program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw on the substantial knowledge of its 46,000-plus members, including land developers, engineers, public officials, academics, lenders, architects, planners and urban designers. “The independent views of the panelists bring a fresh perspective to the land use challenge,” Eitler said. “The Advisory Services program is all about offering creative, innovative approaches to community building.”

Past sponsors of ULI advisory service panels include federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; non-profit community groups; environmental organizations and economic development agencies.

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Members of the public and media are invited to the presentation of the panel’s recommendations on Friday, February 28, from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the King-Seabrook Chapel, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St, in Austin.

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