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AUSTIN-South Congress Avenue, the site of revived retail activity in recent years, is in line for a physical makeover as well. A proposed $4-million streetscape improvement plan, covering a section from Town Lake to Ben White Boulevard, could include new street lighting, trees, sidewalk improvements, benches and trash containers.

The city is gathering input from South Congress merchants, landowners and area residents on specific parts of the project and their priorities. The improvements would begin by May 2003.

With its proximity to the CBD just across Town Lake, South Congress has attracted new multifamily and business development. Several high-end apartment complexes have been built on South Congress in recent years and more are planned. A number of businesses have been renovated and others are in the process.

The city will be hiring a historic preservation planning consultant to research and document the street’s history and develop streetscape guidelines sympathetic to the street’s character.

Also, the city and the Texas School for the Deaf will co-sponsor a project to redevelop the school’s frontage on South Congress. The project includes a “serpentine” retaining wall, sidewalk and trees at street level and Capital Metro’s bus stop from the creek crossing to just north of the school’s new gateway, creating 15 parallel parking spaces and a bike lane in what is now the right turn lane east onto Nellie Street, planting a second row of trees and installing Great Streets-style street and pedestrian lighting.

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