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Breaking down the Downtown Austin Alliance’s State of Downtown

We all know Austin has changed in the last year, but how much has it changed?

An overhead view of Downtown over Barton Springs Pool in the daytime.

The State of Downtown is an annual report that tracks growth in the city.

Photo via Getty Images

Table of Contents

Get in y’all, we’re going downtown.

Downtown Austin just keeps growing — did you know 5.54 million sqft of new construction was completed in 2022? And with 95% of pre-pandemic visitor activity recovered, it seems like Downtown’s growth won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

We read through the Downtown Austin Alliance’s 2023 State of Downtown report. Here are some of the highlights.

Development

A map of buildings downtown that were recently completed, under construction, or in the planning stage.

The red buildings are under construction, the blue buildings are in the planning stage, and the grey buildings were delivered in 2022-2023.

Graphic via the Downtown Austin Alliance

Roughly 8.2 million sqft of Downtown space is currently under construction, including eight office projects, 19 mixed-use projects, and 11,200 residential units.

The Austin metro area is expected to grow by 57%, bringing an estimated 3.6 million new residents. To help address growth, developers are planning to open ~3,000 hotel rooms and ~10 proposed office buildings by 2040. In total, 21 new projects are in the proposal and planning stages Downtown.

Although hybrid work models caused a temporary dip in office vacancy, the Downtown Austin Alliance reported healthy demand for office space in 2022.

Housing

A table showing the average characteristics of downtown residents.

Downtown affordability continues to be a concern for the city.

Graphic via Downtown Austin Alliance

The average Downtown resident ages 25-34, with a household income of $145,000 per year. About 60% of these residents are male and 78.4% have a college degree.

The good news for Downtown residents: rent prices have taken a slight dip, though affordability is still a concern. Downtown currently has 3,657 housing units under construction, and 7,546 in the proposal phase.

Tourism

Last year was a record-breaking year for the Austin Bergstrom-International Airport, and Downtown saw the impacts.

Downtown hotel occupancy averaged 67%, just 5% lower than in 2019. A room for the night in Downtown will currently run you ~$270 per night, compared to $174 on average elsewhere in the city.

Across the board, tourism in Austin brought in $2.6 billion in earnings, and generated 63,840 jobs last year. In 2022, an average of 2.59 million people visited per month.

Entertainment

The 680 Downtown businesses — about 85% of pre-pandemic storefronts — are adapting to consumer behavior.

Downtown is home to 189 drink and entertainment venues, which employ 12,540 workers in the entertainment sphere. Rent for these spaces is high — a bit less than $43 per sqft — but not disproportionate to the most recent years prior.

As of 2022, you’re most likely to see the biggest crowds having a weekend drink at Rainey Street.

Transportation

A table showing desired and current transportation outcomes, including trains, bikes, and cars.

Eventually, the city hopes that Austin residents will travel mostly via light rail.

Graphic via the Downtown Austin Alliance

Although major changes in transportation are still years away, developments like Project Connect, I-35 upgrades, and the Congress Avenue Urban Design Initiative aim to move the needle.

At least 60% of residents traveled via car in 2022 (not including ride share services), a figure the city wants to reduce to about 25% in the coming years.

Green space

If you’re looking to get outdoors, you’re in luck, because Downtown has ~150 acres of green space to enjoy. Waterloo Park celebrated its first full year of operation in 2022, and the second Waterloo Greenway phase, The Confluence, will break ground in 2023. Meanwhile, the Downtown Austin Alliance removed more than 250,000 pounds of trash from Downtown last year.

View the full report online.

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