From low-rise condos dotting the shores of
the lake to high-rise loft living, there’s no
doubt that the perks to living downtown
can’t be beat.
But it wasn’t always this way. Years ago,
businesses were all that occupied the down-
town area, with the exception of four or
five condo high-rises and a few apartment
buildings – and those who lived downtown
had to drive or take a bus to get to services
like grocery stores and specialty shops. The
closest entertainment was on Sixth Street,
which was lined with bars and restaurants
and had very few shops.
Now, the rise of new residential units has
had a definite influence on the kinds of busi-
nesses that have sprung up downtown to
support those who embrace the urban living
scene. With all the recent development, the
infrastructure of downtown has changed.
Consider that, without Whole Foods, the
closest major grocery store would be at least
two miles away. The eclectic mix of other
businesses, many of which are locally owned,
are also huge benefits because they contribute
to downtown’s status as a walkable city that’s
easy to get around.
WHO’S MOVING TO
Like many downtowns across the country,
there was a large concentration of single,
young professionals, and investors snapping up downtown Austin lofts and condos.
The market may have catered to singles and
empty-nesters several years ago, but now
there’s a much broader spectrum of who lives
downtown. While singles and professionals
still dominate, more families with children
are making the move. And, with plenty of
good public, private and charter schools
within easy access of downtown – plus parks
and a location that’s minutes away from tons
of kid-friendly activities – it’s getting easier
for families to make the transition.
Another factor that’s drawing more and more
people to downtown Austin are the increased
services. Whole Foods Market’s flagship
store and corporate headquarters at Sixth and
Lamar, plus tiny neighborhood grocery stores
like Royal Blue Grocery in the Second Street
District are welcome additions for downtown
residents in need of a bottle of bubbly or a
loaf of bread.
The newest downtown Austin development
projects, such as the Second Street District,
additions to the Warehouse District, and new
shops and restaurants on Fifth Street, have
made it a lot easier for people to make the
decision to live in the heart of the city. There
are also plans to bring in still more retail
downtown, as residents are demanding more
services and options.
For example, the Second Street District has
done very well with the boutique stores,