With Austin’s affordability on nearly everyone’s mind, it’s nice to see some movement on that front for those who keep the city humming after dark. Thanks to a new program initiated by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Austin Music People the city is stepping in to try to make parking downtown a little easier for those who spend their evening hours slinging drinks and strumming guitars.

The service industry parking garage project has been in the works for a while, and as of May 2 has officially launched. The Austin Monitor originally reported on the development in April when they spoke with Jennifer Houlihan, Executive Director of Austin Music People.

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Houlihan said that her organization was concerned with safe late-night transportation for all aspects of the downtown economy, including musicians and those who work in clubs. She explained that although bars close at 2 a.m., employees often work much later than that and then walk back to their cars at 3 or 4 in the morning – often to parking located far away.

The Waller Creek Parking Garage at 10th and Red River is typically filled with Water Department employees during the day, yet sits empty at night. Now, downtown service industry employees and musicians with residencies in the Red River Cultural District can pay just $35 per month to park there at night, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. To make it even more affordable, the city is allowing the passes to be shared amongst employees. The city didn’t just stop at opening the garage at a good rate, though. They’ve added 24-hour security, a new garage door, and better lighting.

KVUE reports that only seven employees have signed up for the program so far, but Houlihan assures us that this is simply because it’s the first month of a pilot program.

“We expect more to be sold, interest has been really strong. It’s just a question of getting into a groove with the paperwork. It’s a pilot program, so we’re using this time to get the bugs out,” Houlihan said.

Once these 200 spaces are sold, there is potential for the program to be rolled out in other parts of the city.

Seemingly small projects like this one are the type of thing that have the potential to add up for those who make Austin’s nightlife what it is. As the Austin Chronicle eloquently laid out in their feature piece, We Can’t Make it Here Anymore, the affordability crisis in Austin is becoming overwhelming. If Austin wants to continue to be the Live Music Capital of the World and host an array of booming entertainment districts, it’s this type of progressive thinking and action from our community that will help.

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Featured photo by Laurie Lyons



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