Austin has been one of the fastest-growing major metro areas in the country for nearly a decade, with a population closing in on 1 million and expected to double before 2040. Along with this growth, rising real estate prices, property taxes, and general cost of living have driven many longtime businesses under and Black and Latinx residents out of their homes. This displacement of longtime community members and homeowners, particularly in East Austin, directly results from a history of racial ostracization, segregation, and now gentrification. In the wake of the economic fallout of Covid-19, city officials are looking to the Economic Development Department to generate significant tax revenue and economic growth by transforming city-owned real estate and increasing the value of neighborhoods throughout the city. The department must work to scale multiple redevelopment projects, while preserving and enhancing history, culture, and the natural environment and investing in small businesses and public spaces unique to the neighborhoods that make up these communities.
To support this work, Austin’s Economic Development Department will partner with FUSE Executive Fellow Juany Torres for one year to develop a holistic and action-oriented redevelopment framework for the city. The Executive Fellow will craft community-based recommendations and push traditional redevelopment boundaries, injecting creative and innovative solutions that can be easily replicated, not just by each project in Austin but by other cities across the country as well.