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AUSTIN-Fifty or 100 years from now will buildings in downtown Austin now be deemed worthy enough to preserve? That’s one of the questions a report from the Heritage Society of Austin seeks to help answer.

The 57-page “Heritage Austin: A Community-based Vision” offers suggestions to developers and planners working on CBD projects about developing in the downtown and maintaining its character. The report, developed over several years, looks at several elements that make up downtown including people, place, livability, mobility and economic sustainability.

Regarding livability, for example, the report suggests housing is not compatible with bars or music venues. It does suggest, however, that affordable housing near music venues might be appropriate for musicians and people who work in the venues.

One of the predominant themes is building for permanence, Michael Knox of the City of Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services office tells GlobeSt.com. The report, he says, guides builders toward not just preserving heritage, but creating new heritage.

Knox says there’s been a tendency to build commercial buildings that will last for 20 to 30 years. “Then you tear them down and do it over,” he says. Those are relatively rare downtown, he says, but adds, “there are some buildings that have been developed downtown that are not the things that 50 years from now we would call historic gems that we’d want to keep. One of those things we need to keep in mind as we develop, especially in a place like downtown, that really want to build for some permanence.”

Under economic sustainability, the report advises that steady growth in downtown should be favored over boom-and-bust development cycles. “The local government must take a leadership role, investing consistently and wisely toward long-term goals,” the report says. “Market forces are often beyond anyone’s control and hindsight is always 20/20, but Austin’s local government must be careful not to encourage or support hasty development based on a booming market.” The report has bone out to architects, developers, business and government officials.

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