Austin, Texas – Mayor Kirk Watson expressed his delight at the large turnout on a momentous day for the community. The city’s economic development department has at last progressed to the next phase of redevelopment at the St. John’s site in northeast Austin. This achievement comes after years of anticipation and marks a significant milestone for Austin’s development.
District 4 council member Jose ‘Chito’ Vela outlined the ambitious plans for the St. John’s site, revealing that approximately 500 homes will be built, along with an expanded St. John’s park and additional retail and commercial spaces surrounding the park. Vela emphasized that this 19-acre parcel of city-owned land, which has remained vacant for an extended period, is poised for transformation.
Turning the abandoned area and empty building into a beautiful park is a testament to the dedication of the community, according to Vela. This redevelopment will not only enhance the area aesthetically but also significantly benefit the community.
Congressman Greg Casar, who formerly served as council member for District 4, joined the gathering on Saturday morning. Casar expressed his satisfaction at Austin’s progress on a project he had tirelessly advocated for, even when it seemed impossible. Through the conversion of the former Home Depot and Chrysler dealership, the aim is to provide affordable housing for community members and a communal space for residents to come together.
Vela highlighted the innovative partnership that enabled this development on the St. John’s site, affirming its potential applicability to other city properties throughout Austin. This groundbreaking collaboration serves as a model for future ventures, ensuring both housing solutions and thoughtful development for the city.
The St. John site holds deep historical significance within Austin’s African American community. With the city’s acquisition of the land in 2008, the council aims to honor and celebrate its heritage. The community’s involvement is crucial, as the city aims to prioritize them for the low-cost housing being constructed on the site.
Thelma Williams, affectionately known as Grandma Wisdom, voiced her support for the city’s efforts, expressing that embracing change and actively participating in it provides people with the opportunity to benefit. Williams acknowledged the importance of community involvement in shaping the future.
Excitingly, the Monday following the event, August 14, will see the commencement of demolition, marking the initiation of tangible change in the community. The long-awaited transformation of the St. John’s site is set to bring numerous benefits and opportunities to the people of Austin.