Cap Metro Breaks Ground on Plaza Saltillo

Linda and Pio
Capital Metro President/CEO Linda Watson with Board and Council Member Pio Renteria

This was a big week for Capital Metro, a week decades in the making. With our partners Endeavor Real Estate and Columbus Realty alongside members of the community, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the Plaza Saltillo District on Wednesday.

Braving the warm, muggy weather, a couple hundred people joined us at Plaza Saltillo, right next to our MetroRail station and directly adjacent to a 10-acre tract of land that’s laid empty since the mid-1990s.

It won’t be empty for much longer, though. When construction is through, the development will feature 800 residential apartment units (almost 20 percent of which will be reserved as affordable housing), more than 110,000 square feet of retail space, 140,000 square feet of office space, an acre-and-a-half of open space with public art and access to a range of transportation options. In addition to our own MetroRail and MetroBus services, the Plaza Saltillo District will be located right along an extended Lance Armstrong Bikeway and two historical walking paths (the Tejano Music Legends Trail and the Tejano Healthy Walking Trail); it will also have access to Austin B-cycle stations and Car2Go vehicles.

Rather than your typical event with a big pile of imported dirt and shiny new shovels, the Plaza Saltillo groundbreaking featured a flag-planting ceremony. Representatives of Capital Metro, the city of Austin, Endeavor Real Estate and the neighboring community staked flags symbolizing the three organizing partners: Cap Metro, Endeavor and the city. We included the Texas state flag too.

Cap Metro President/CEO Linda Watson spoke enthusiastically about the trajectory of the project, and the agency’s efforts to guide the development in a way that served the needs of Capital Metro, as well as the neighborhood and the entire region.

Pio Renteria is a member of both our board of directors and the Austin City Council, representing East Austin. He and East Side resident Johnny Limon talked with passion about the history and the people of East Austin. In his dual roles, Renteria was instrumental in getting the project through the final steps of the approval process. Limon, too, worked for years leading a community group dedicated to finding a solution for the abandoned railyard that will be home to the development.

In addition to the flags and the great speeches, the crowd was able to enjoy tamales and agua frescas from the Tamale House (located just down the street from the station), conjunto music by Los Pinkys and paletas from Mom and Pops Frozen Pops.

Remediation work on the former brownfield site has already started and construction of the underground parking structure will begin shortly. In all, the project is expected to take about 30 months.

Wednesday was a fun way to acknowledge the road we’ve taken so far and to look to the days ahead when the development be finished. Once done, the resulting Plaza Saltillo District will be a great addition to Austin and Central Texas.

Austin Mobility: East Fifth St. Transit Oriented Development Underway

Austin Mobility featured an article in their newsletter yesterday, describing the ongoing development in the east 5th area — around our MetroRail Plaza Saltillo Station. Check out the Austin Mobility to learn more about local Transit Oriented Development at: http://ow.ly/ealZv or read on:

E. Fifth St. transit oriented development underway

Projects near Plaza Saltillo are moving forward.

The 256-unit Corazon mixed-use project has begun construction, and will feature 9,400 square feet of retail, along with 6,400 square feet of restaurant space.

That project, the first to break ground at the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail station and transit oriented development east of IH-35, is expected to be completed by 2014.

The project is a step towards realizing the vision for Transit Oriented Development on Fifth Street.

Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, is a rapidly growing trend to create compact and walkable communities with high quality design centered around transit, and offering mobility choices.

The TOD vision was created by working with community members to address issues such as connectivity, open space, and design within the realities of economics.

The TODs have a complimentary regulation and zoning framework to facilitate compact and connected development, which is a key part of the Imagine Austin plan, passed by a unanimous City Council this month.

In addition to the private development, Capital Metro is making progress on about 10 acres it hopes to develop under future private-public relationships.

An environmental assessment of the land is close to being completed.

An upcoming report, by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency, will give planners an understanding of what remediation would need to occur to develop the land.

In addition, Capital Metro expects to begin design and engineering later this year to relocate rail along Fourth Street, which will free up land for mixed-use development.

That $5.4 million track project is funded 80 percent by federal funds, with a 20 percent match from Capital Metro.

Plaza Saltillo Beautification

Volunteers helped landscape at Plaza Saltillo in June 2010.

Have you ever noticed the pretty landscaping out at the Plaza Saltillo Station?

Did you know that everything planted there is thanks to the hard work and dedication of VOLUNTEERS?

Do YOU want to get involved too? !? Well, you’re in luck!

Capital Metro is hosting a Plaza Saltillo beautification day as part of the KAB Clean Sweep on April 9 from 9-11am.  The work is light – just weeding and pruning – but important.

Sign up here if you are interested in volunteering, and feel free to invite your friends or folks who might be interested in helping too.

Also, I’d encourage you to check out and join our Facebook page to see photos and the history of the beautification project over the last few years.

Thanks!

Volunteers helped landscape at Plaza Saltillo in June 2010.

Plaza Saltillo’s lookin’ spiffy

After a long, hot day planting native trees, shrubs and grasses, Plaza Saltillo looks great!

Capital Metro–with the help of many volunteers, the landscape design dynamo of Ilse Frank, principal of Studio Balcones Landscape + Urbanism, the grant and materials support of Keep Austin Beautiful, the assistance of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Austin/Saltillo Sister Cities Association, and the in-kind donations of several local businesses–has been revitalizing Plaza Saltillo over the past several months.

The most recent volunteer day was this past Saturday, June 19th.  Twenty hard working, dedicated volunteers planted about 300 plants in sweltering heat at Plaza Saltillo.   Many thanks to Thistle Cafe for providing lunch and Texas Coffee Traders who supplied coffee.  This work day completed all of the large planting beds and added shade trees, ornamental shade trees, grasses, and native plants. It looks fantastic! Check out the photo gallery on the Friends of Plaza Saltillo Facebook page.

Continue reading “Plaza Saltillo’s lookin’ spiffy”

Second Volunteer Day at Plaza Saltillo

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Cleaned beds at Plaza Saltillo ready for new plantings

On Saturday morning, October 24th, the Plaza Saltillo at E 5th St. and Comal St. began to come alive.

Adjacent to the Plaza Saltillo MetroRail Station, Plaza Saltillo sits as a public plaza inspired by one of Austin’s Sister Cities, Saltillo, Mexico. The Plaza was built in 1997 through a grant by the City of Austin on land leased from Capital Metro.

Saturday was the second volunteer day at the Plaza Saltillo. The first day, volunteers removed tired remainders of the original landscape plantings and prepared the beds for new plants. This past weekend, volunteers helped us install some of the new plantings. Continue reading “Second Volunteer Day at Plaza Saltillo”

Revitalizing Plaza Saltillo

Deep in the heart of lovely East Austin is a wonderful place called Plaza Saltillo – it’s one of our MetroRail stations and a beautifully designed public gathering space. Unfortunately, the landscaping and some fixtures at Plaza Saltillo have seen better days, and so in an effort to revitalize this cherished community asset, we are working with the City’s Parks & Recreation Department and community partners to give the Plaza a much-needed refresh.

Beautiful Plaza Saltillo
Beautiful Plaza Saltillo

Continue reading “Revitalizing Plaza Saltillo”