An EcoDistricts Target City

Detroit is the 18th largest city in the US, but it used to be the fifth. Its population is roughly 40 percent of its one-time peak of 1.8 million. The city is over 80 percent African American with some Hispanic, White and Arab-American populations.

Eco-D is a collaborative backbone organization offering structure and process to support the creation of sustainable neighborhood development throughout the city of Detroit. The Eco-D team serves a variety of neighborhoods, offering an array of services to support their development. The incredible variety of neighborhood conditions within the city make Detroit an excellent ground for experimenting with varied approaches to urban sustainable development. These approaches include gardens and agriculture, energy efficiency, healthy homes, community solar, alternative transportation, green infrastructure and more.

Eco-D is a “second-stage” intervention, supporting community-driven efforts. Once a community has created a green plan for their future, Eco-D brings support and services to implement that vision.

An EcoDistricts Target City

Congress Heights is a primarily low-to-middle-income residential neighborhood located just south of the historic St. Elizabeths Hospital Campus in Washington, DC. Set to attract over $58 million in infrastructure investments, these two districts come together to form the St. Elizabeths – Congress Heights Ecodistrict.

Congress Heights is an active community comprised of many educational- and faith-based institutions. Frank W. Ballou High School, Hart Middle School and the SE Tennis and Learning Center collectively serve the community. Additionally, Congress Heights is located near Oxon Run Park and in close proximity to the historic St. Elizabeths campus. According to the 2006 Comprehensive Plan, the neighborhood’s present population is 96.1 percent African American, compared to 92.8 percent for Ward 8 and 60 percent for the city as a whole.

An historic gem in the middle of the nation’s capital, the St. Elizabeths campus is located adjacent to the Congress Heights community. The 350-acre campus was previously occupied entirely by the St. Elizabeths Hospital. The District government is actively working to redevelop St. Elizabeths East into a vibrant mixed-use campus. Plans for the redevelopment of St. Elizabeths East feature an “Innovation Hub,” highlighting the co-location of community, universities, technology businesses and technology-focused amenities focused on cultivating globally significant economic opportunities.

In addition, St. Elizabeths East will soon be home to the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center. R.I.S.E., a name selected by the community, stands for Relate, Innovate, Stimulate and Elevate (Rel8, Innov8, Stimul8 and Elev8). The Demonstration Center will include flex meeting, tech and demonstration space designed to build community interest in the campus redevelopment efforts and solidify St. Elizabeths East as an innovation hub. The East campus is adjacent to the Congress Heights Metrorail station and is easily linked to the entire metro region.

An EcoDistricts Target City

The SW Ecodistrict Initiative is a comprehensive and forward-looking approach to urban sustainability and livability in the heart of Washington, DC. The vision proposes transforming the 110 acres of a 15-block, predominantly federal precinct located just south of the National Mall into a highly sustainable, walkable neighborhood and workplace that will: connect the National Mall with Washington’s southwest waterfront; be a national showcase of sustainable urban development; provide sites for major new museums, memorials and events; accommodate the federal government’s future space needs; and include housing, commercial services and usable open space. The development project is expected to increase the population of the neighborhood by 33 percent by 2030. In anticipation of the influx of residents, the district will construct 14.3 acres of new or improved parks and public green space.

In 2013 the National Capital Planning Commission, in coordination with 17 local and federal agencies, completed the SW Ecodistrict Plan. The Plan demonstrates how planning, implementing, and operating at a neighborhood (or district) scale results in more environmental and economic benefits than a traditional building-scale approach. The Plan proposes a development scenario where projects can be prioritized and implemented over a 20-year period as they become economically viable and align with federal and local investment priorities.

An EcoDistricts Target City

In April 2011, the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) of Washington, DC officially announced its plans to redevelop the Downtown BID area into an ecodistrict. Comprised of 90 million square feet of built environment, 60 million square feet of which is used as office space, this 138-block area has set ambitious energy efficiency and green infrastructure goals to help develop downtown Washington, DC into one of the most sustainable urban epicenters in the world. The BID has set targets to reduce the district’s energy consumption by 20% by 2020.

Downtown BID has identified transit, LEED certifications and registrations, green power purchasing and Energy Star programs as some of the priority projects that it would like to see incorporated into the Downtown BID Ecodistrict. Home to mostly commercial properties, the ecodistrict also includes 6,000 housing units that help to improve walkability and reduce commuter traffic and pollution.

Created in 1997 by way of legislation, the Downtown Business Improvement District is focused on investing in capital improvements and providing services, resources and research to enhance the experience and improve the quality of life of workers, residence, visitors and the like as they explore the downtown Washington, DC neighborhood. Business owners approved a self-imposed tax that generates $11 million annually to make-up the BID’s annual operating budget.

An EcoDistricts Target City

Zibi, formerly known as the Isles, is a brownfield site that represents 37-acres of industrial land located between the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau in Ontario. The unique location of this project and its ability to span both political and cultural boundaries make this riverfront property undeniably special.

The site was purchased with the vision of making it a world-class ecodistrict to stimulate innovation and creativity. As a mixed-used development estimated to create 500 new permanent jobs and maintain a 90 percent walkability score, this project is designed for hyper-local living, in which any resident can easily walk to their place of work, home of residence or enjoy leisurely activities at the nearby restaurants or green, open space. Twelve percent of the master planned area is dedicated to public space. Turning this industrial space into a vibrant and sustainable development will require stages of soil remediation designed to coincide with the various phases of development.

The Windmill Development Group has set ambitious sustainability targets for the projects. The Group is seeking to reduce construction waste by 20 percent. All buildings are designed to be net zero by 2020, including a net zero district utility system for the distribution of energy, heating and cooling needs.

An EcoDistricts Target City

Self-titled as a Cultural-Ecodistrict, the 19.5 acre Little Tokyo Ecodistrict, located in the Downtown Los Angeles District, is designed to capture and highlight its 130-year old Japanese-American history. With 40% of the population living below poverty and a median income of $26,774, a new light rail station in Little Tokyo will help to meet the community’s public transit needs. The station will be surrounded by public land and nestled within both Little Tokyo and the Downtown Arts District.

Little Tokyo is perfectly positioned to flourish into a thriving transit-oriented cultural epicenter with the completion of this project. A proposed catalyst project is located near Union Station, and Metro is in the midst of compiling concepts for the Regional Connector to improve access to public transportation. Achieving environmental performance is a project priority that includes TOD, green building retrofits, parks and open space and building out renewable energy and water management that will help Little Tokyo in reaching its goal of creating a 35 percent savings in energy and water usage.

The Little Tokyo Service Center has taken the lead in convening a diverse set of stakeholders to move forward a planning process grounded in the vision and interests of the local community. An extensive community planning and visioning process informed the publication of A Sustainable Little Tokyo, which continues to inform the planning process as it moves forward.

Little Tokyo Map Rendering

Neighborhood-Scale Sustainable Development Case Study

Neighborhood Overview

The Sun Valley Neighborhood in Denver, CO is undergoing a massive redevelopment. This historically low-density, low-income community along the banks of the Platte River is one of the most geographically central neighborhoods in the metro Denver region and home to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, the majority of whom live in the Sun Valley Homes housing project. Today, 94 percent of the neighborhood’s housing market is subsidized, with only five percent of the homes occupied by the owners. The Sun Valley Ecodistrict is poised to create a new model of community transformation, with equity, environmental justice and public health as its driving forces.

Sun Valley is home to a diverse population including Denver’s largest concentration of recent
immigrants who bring their local customs and culture to the area, yet face language, social, educational and economic barriers. The district is largely industrial and includes an electric substation, oil tank farm and legacy district steam power plant. Interspersed are a Denver Housing Authority (DHA) housing project, site homes, a school, community center and light industrial and warehouse buildings.

Located along the Platte River and just south of the Denver Bronco’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, the area is geographically isolated from downtown Denver by major highways, with few points of access. When it is completed, Sun Valley will be transformed from a high poverty, high vacancy district with large swaths of surface parking, to a next-generation neighborhood, home to 3,000 residents,300 jobs and new or enhanced neighborhood services, making it one of the City’s most vibrant mixed-use, transit-serving communities.

Sun Valley is primed and ready for smart and thoughtful redevelopment. In 2013, Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) opened the Decatur-Federal Light Rail Station in the neighborhood.
Having already secured a joint grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Transportation, the City of Denver and the DHA also completed a comprehensive Master Plan, Transformation Plan and General Development Plan.

The work over the last several years has been recognized with an additional Choice Neighborhoods Initiative planning grant from HUD that will allow the DHA and the City to continue to bring partners like EcoDistricts to the table, helping drive revitalization while helping to repair the decades-long pattern of disinvestment.

Sun Valley + Target Cities: Advancing a Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy

Sun Valley first participated in the 2013 EcoDistricts Incubator in Portland, OR, a three-day intensive designed to accelerate EcoDistricts-modeled urban regeneration projects. Sun Valley stakeholders, led by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), believed the creation of an “ecodistrict” would help them advance a cutting-edge sustainability strategy that built on the legacy of their Mariposa Development.

The DHA and City of Denver continued to engage EcoDistricts when they joined the EcoDistricts Target Cities program in 2014.  The Target Cities program provided customized group workshops, technical assistance and peer networking to help align stakeholder interests and responsibilities, develop a long-term governance model and strategy framework, complete an EcoDistricts Assessment and Roadmap (integrated footprint analysis and project identification) and support the launch of catalytic projects. Participation in the program helped align critical stages of project planning and implemention with the core components of the EcoDistricts Protocol framework, through its three Imperatives, six Priorities, and three Implementation phases.

In summer 2016, the DHA formed the 501(c)3, Sun Valley Ecodistrict (SVED) to solidify a governing model to attract strategic partners, implement the district-scale solutions proposed in the Transformation Plan and EcoDistricts Roadmap, and monitor district progress and success indicators.

Over the course of the Target Cities program, the Sun Valley team traveled to five U.S. cities for four workshops, one charrette and one convening hosted at the 2014 EcoDistricts Summit. Each host city — including Boston, MA, Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA and Denver, CO — acted as a learning laboratory in which Target Cities members saw other communities’ projects first-hand and shared stories and strategies. After Target Cities concluded at the end of 2016, the Sun Valley leadership team evaluated its progress and continued challenges.

Early Wins

Through seven years of extensive planning and four years of engagement with EcoDistricts, DHA and the Sun Valley stakeholders have systematically worked through a series of planning and formation milestones with an emphasis on authentic outreach and master planning activities. This has resulted in a set of local and national strategic and funding partnerships that distinguish Sun Valley from most public housing authority projects. After recently receiving a $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhood implementation grant, the redevelopment of Sun Valley is moving into the first phase of implementation, championing numerous sustainability projects and programs, including those described below.

01-Imperative-Equity256pxEQUITY:  Sun Valley’s equity priorities are advanced by an new organization created to address child welfare, food security and other core community issues. In addition, as part of the redevelopment process, DHA is using phased relocation to ensure the redevelopment of 333 units of Sun Valley Homes is minimally disruptive to the vulnerable populations they house through the specification of one-for-one replacement of housing units and bedrooms per housing unit. Current residents are given the opportunity to accept either a voucher for new housing of their choice outside of DHA’s new redevelopment, or a guaranteed unit. Residents are provided adequate
temporary housing in the neighborhood while their building is redeveloped. More than 60 percent of the resulting 750 apartment units in the redevelopment will be public and affordable housing.

02-Priorities-Place256pxPLACE: The Sun Valley Ecodistrict (SVED) is designing a 30,000 square foot multi-use office building in the neighborhood that will include community engagement space and offices for SVED, University of Denver and other professional for profit and nonprofit entities financed through impact capital. The Center also will include an art gallery, food services and a resource library to educate visitors and residents on the development history and progress. Once the district energy system is in place (described below), the Center will feature a performance tracking and information center to inform residents and visitors about the district’s energy savings and usage. The Center also will integrate and display data and metric tracking of key neighborhood and human indicators throughout the redevelopment timeline.

02-Priorities-ResourceRestoration256pxRESOURCE REGENERATION: In 2014, DHA received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help fund energy and planning in Sun Valley. Work included modeling alternate district-based energy solutions and green infrastructure with small-scale impacts and solutions. As a result, SVED plans to develop a district-wide energy system for the Sun Valley neighborhood. The system will supply gas- and electric-generated heating and cooling to buildings throughout the district, and has the potential to reduce annual energy use by 20 percent. The DHA also plans the installation of solar photovoltaic panels throughout Sun Valley. The panels will generate over five megawatts of energy and supply approximately 30 percent of Sun Valley’s electricity annually.

02-Priorities-Prosperity256pxPROSPERITY: SVED is creating a micro-business incubator to provide residents and small businesses with space for start-up opportunities. The incubator will include flexible space for micro-restaurants, micro-retail and community events. Twenty percent of this space will be reserved for Sun Valley Homes residents to empower local job opportunity and entrepreneurship.

02-Priorities-Connectivity256pxCONNECTIVITY: A new street grid, complete street design, access to the new light rail station, better river crossings, pedestrian access to the river and connectivity through grid improvements will be designed throughout the neighborhood.  A new bike rack system designed by DHA’s Enterprise Rose Architecture Fellow was installed in November 2016. Denver’s B-Cycle bike share program will locate two new bike share stations in the neighborhood to allow residents to check out bikes and return them at locations throughout the City.

02-Priorities-LivingInfrastructure256pxLIVING INFRASTRUCTURE:  Sun Valley is at the confluence of two water systems that feed into the South Platte River. Since 2010, the City and County of Denver has invested over $4 million to regenerate the system to create open waterways with fully landscaped banks and restored natural habitats. The restoration has improved the environmental integrity, aesthetics and safety of the area through flood control and stormwater impoundment.

Lessons Learned + Continued Challenges

At the end of the two-year Target City program engagement period, each participating district was evaluated by its internal staff and board, and by EcoDistricts personnel. The points below reflect shared assessments by all parties and describe both the opportunities and challenges that Sun Valley has faced in the effort to regenerate the neighborhood.

The Sun Valley Station Area is larger than the DHA development area, requiring a more robust governance model that provides the SVED with masterplanning authorization for land outside of DHA’s control. This will require a balancing act as SVED stakeholders look at the optimal land use for existing DHA land, plus additional public and private land holdings in the context of the entire area.

There are a variety of anti-poverty initiatives underway in West Denver. Many of the efforts are led by different public agencies and nonprofit organizations, and not coordinated. In order for the redevelopment of Sun Valley to be successful, integration with ongoing and future efforts in adjacent neighborhoods must occur. SVED is looking to position itself as a hub of such activities.

While DHA has an excellent record of retaining existing low-income residents through the phased relocation process, it remains a disruptive event in the lives of already vulnerable populations and the process is compounded by language barriers. As a result, many community members have negative perceptions of redevelopment, and question realistic goals of inclusive gentrification and whether growth can be managed to benefit existing residents.

Connecting Sun Valley with downtown Denver remains challenging. A major highway, viaduct, football stadium, river and the Auraria Higher Education Center Campus create physical barriers between Sun Valley and the surrounding neighborhoods. Moreover, the contrast in demographics acts as a psychological barrier. RTD’s West Rail Line provides a substantial improvement in connectivity, but has had limited impact on perception or accessibility of the district.

Sun Valley has limited land and infrastructure capacity to handle the future planned developments. Additionally, the source of funding for infrastructure improvements is not confirmed, and the life cycle of proposed projects remains uncertain.

Next Steps

Key next steps for the collaboration between EcoDistricts and Sun Valley include the following:

Support Sun Valley through EcoDistricts Certification with project management.  As neighborhood leadership moves through the certification process, EcoDistricts can provide technical support and training, and serve as an information hub to connect the district with others for peer learning and
the application of best practices. (2017-2019)

Provide capacity building to Sun Valley as the newly formed nonprofit becomes the hub for anti-poverty and equity initiatives for Sun Valley’s diverse community.  From staffing and resource development to branding and communications, EcoDistricts’ technical support will help ensure that this new organization is positioned to become the neighborhood service hub that
Sun Valley’s residents and leaders envision. (2018-2020)

In Their Own Words

“With EcoDistricts at the table before development began, we were able to plan for holistic energy, water, wastewater and other district-based solutions that will change the entire face of how we develop, how we conserve resources, how we save money, how we interact, and therefore how people from all income levels can live sustainably together.”

– Ismael Guerrero, Executive Director, Denver Housing Authority

An EcoDistricts Target City

Kendall Square is a high-density commercial, innovation and transportation hub located in eastern Cambridge on the Charles River. With a population of 6,520, Kendall Square boasts two elementary schools – Fletcher Maynard Academy and Community Charter School of Cambridge. A core team of Kendall Square stakeholders that represent local government, the local business association, institutional partners, and large property owners has developed and secured funding for a two year proof of concept ecodistrict project.

With a median income of $87,379, Kendall Square is one of the largest and fastest growing markets for the tech and biomed industries. These companies, as well as the neighborhood’s countless startups, increasingly attract employees who wish to live close to work, creating demand for a true mixed-use district. Build out projections for 2020 indicate that an additional 3 million square feet of retail, office, and residential space will be added to the existing 7 million square feet of development. Residential and retail space is expected to increase by 66 percent and 170 percent respectively. The area also includes 11 different parks that total to 11.2 acres of green, open parks and public space.

An EcoDistricts Target City

Atlanta’s University Center Vine City (AVE) Ecodistrict has the highest number of historically black colleges and universities in a single area. The 229-acre AUC district is home to Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College, Morris Brown College and the Interdenominational Theological Center. The district is also home to 21,146 residents, 11,320 of whom are currently enrolled in local colleges and universities.

Vine City is a dense urban neighborhood in Atlanta’s downtown core with 43 percent of the residents living in poverty and earning a median annual household income of $24,374. Just across the street from this predominantly low-income, African American neighborhood, sits the stadium of the Atlanta Falcons professional football team. Stadium owners are actively developing plans to update their stadium, presenting an opportune moment to leverage the incoming private capital to build a highly inclusive planning experience, bringing elected officials and community stakeholders come together to envision this area as a future ecodistrict.

The AVE Ecodistrict will necessitate a public-private partnership to equitably close the social, economic and physical gaps that separate Vine City from AUC in order to make it one cohesive ecodistrict. Addressing transit connectivity issues is a priority project that the ecodistrict aims to mitigate through the establishment of a Multimodal Passenger Terminal facility.

Additionally, updating the physical hindrance of the Georgia World Congress Center will help to reconnect the vulnerable Vine City community to vital jobs, housing, education and health improvements and needed environmental improvements located in the downtown core. The project area includes 9.3 acres of greenspace. A directive from the Urban Waters Federal Partnership will support cleanup and maintenance of the Proctor Creek watershed — this restoration is a major environmental sustainability priority for the project and will require the help and coordination of local agencies.

Neighborhood-Scale Sustainable Development Case Study

Neighborhood Overview

The Seaholm Ecodistrict is an 85-acre brownfield site in Austin, TX that is being redeveloped into a vibrant, sustainable, cultural hub for the downtown area. The site covers 22 city blocks with over nine blocks of City owned land, most of which served as Austin’s primary utilities for several decades, providing businesses and residents with power and water. The area is anchored by the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant, which now sits as an iconic centerpiece of this historic industrial area.

In 2001, the City of Austin completed a Seaholm District Master Plan to establish a context for the redevelopment and reuse of the Seaholm Power Plant site as an integrated, mixed-use public attraction prioritizing compact and connected neighborhoods, sustainably managed water resources, workforce and local business investment, green infrastructure and household affordability.

Planned and completed infrastructure improvements include a new 200,000 square foot Central Library, extension of a promenade along Cesar Chavez Avenue that is in accordance with Austin’s “Great Streets” design standards, expansion of the downtown district cooling system, a boutique hotel, 1,475 units of multi-family housing, and new office and retail space that will support up to 5,000 new jobs. A new multi-modal transportation network includes planned bus transit, bike sharing, car sharing, hike-and-bike trail connections and a five-mile cross-city route connecting with the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. The Shoal Creek urban waterway that runs through the district, culminating at Lady Bird Lake, and providing an opportunity for stream bank restoration, habitat creation, native plantings and natural drainage enhancements.

Seaholm + Target Cities: Advancing Sustainable District-Scale Development

In 2012, a team of stakeholders from the City of Austin attended the annual EcoDistricts Incubator, a three-day intensive designed to accelerate EcoDistricts- modeled urban regeneration projects across North American communities. Though the Seaholm Ecodistrict’s existing master plan featured sustainability strategies for individual parcels in the district, the team came to the Incubator to develop goals and strategies for the district as a whole.

The City of Austin turned to EcoDistricts again in 2014, as it saw opportunity to apply the EcoDistricts Protocol to inform the district’s existing master plan implementation. The Seaholm Ecodistrict was formed to serve as a backbone organization that would move the implementation of the Master Plan forward in partnership with the City of Austin and other stakeholder organizations.

The Seaholm Ecodistrict joined EcoDistricts’ Target Cities program in 2014 to advance its capacity, governance and leadership in the area of neighborhood development. The Target Cities program included training, technical assistance, and peer-to-peer networking to help projects align stakeholder interests and responsibilities, develop a long-term governance model and strategy framework, complete an EcoDistricts Assessment and Roadmap (integrated footprint analysis and project identification), and support the launch of catalytic projects. EcoDistricts gathered stakeholders from the Seaholm team for several onsite workshops customized to their project, as well as two workshops involving the entire 11-project cohort. The events were designed around the Protocol’s three implementation phases — Formation, Roadmap and Performance.   

Over the course of the Target Cities program, the Seaholm team traveled to five U.S. cities for four workshops, one charrette and one convening hosted at the 2014 EcoDistricts Summit. Each host city — including Boston, MA, Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA and Denver, CO — acted as a learning laboratory in which Target Cities members saw other communities’ projects first-hand and shared stories and strategies. After Target Cities concluded at the end of 2016, Seaholm leadership evaluated its progress and continued challenges.

Early Wins

02-Priorities-Place256pxPLACE: To empower its sense of community and place, in 2015 the Seaholm Ecodistrict created a logo and graphic identify epitomizing. the spirit of the iconic Seaholm power plant. The logo provides a visual foundation and shared identity for residents and visitors, and is intended for use on wayfinding materials such as banners, flyers, street signs and posters throughout the district. The new vision for Seaholm knits together the fabric of an off-limits brownfield into the heart of downtown by creating pedestrian and bike connections, public space and a sense of there. To enliven the district, the City of Austin Art in Public Places program completed eight public art installations in the Seaholm Ecodistrict in Fall 2016, including LED installations, child-engaging sculptures, traffic-calming art bollards, murals and digital placemaking.

The Seaholm Ecodistrict’s 2nd Street extension will be designed as a ‘Festival Street’ extending from the Seaholm Plaza to Shoal Creek. The design incorporates sidewalk improvements, pedestrian crossings, paving patterns, street furniture, native landscaping, removable traffic-calming bollards and an urban tree canopy. The planting areas along 2nd Street will provide stormwater treatment to minimize urban runoff.

02-Priorities-Health256pxHEALTH + WELLBEING: The Seaholm Ecodistrict partnered with Farm to Work, a popular fresh produce delivery service, to serve all employees at the new Central Library beginning in early 2017. Farm to Work promotes locally grown food and offers education about healthy food systems and sustainable farming to consumers and their families.

01-Imperative-Resilience256px02-Priorities-ResourceRestoration256pxRESILIENCE + RESOURCE REGENERATION: The Seaholm Ecodistrict features multiple micro-solar installations including a solar kiosk and Soofa solar benches. An Electric Drive solar kiosk and free charging station opened in October 2016. Three Soofa solar benches have been installed in the district, providing the public with phone, tablet and computer charging stations powered by 100% solar energy.

02-Priorities-LivingInfrastructure256pxLIVING INFRASTRUCTURE: The new Central Library includes a 350,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system with a cistern developed through the adaptive reuse of an abandoned underground concrete pump room in the adjacent electric substation. This rainwater harvesting system will enhance water quality and protect riparian habitat from pollutants of the adjacent Shoal Creek and nearby Lady Bird Lake.

Lessons Learned + Continued Challenges

Each Target City was evaluated by both its internal staff and board and EcoDistricts personnel at the end of the two-year engagement period. The comments below reflect shared assessments by all parties and describe both the opportunities and challenges that the Seaholm Ecodistrict faces in the effort to regenerate the site.

  • As a brownfield redevelopment that includes eight City-owned blocks, the Seaholm Ecodistrict is an ideal scale to test innovative sustainable solutions. With leadership from several City departments, implementation hasn’t been a tremendous barrier.  However, the Seaholm Ecodistrict already was in an advanced stage of planning when stakeholders initially engaged with EcoDistricts. Because of this, project implementation has moved forward rapidly, but it’s been more difficult to integrate the EcoDistricts Protocol into projects already under development.
  • Funding continues to be an issue in completing all of the projects outlined in the Roadmap created by the district. The district team has hired a consultant to research financing options.
  • Since there currently aren’t any residents in the district, City leaders must envision how to incorporate equity into their outcomes through the development of a process for creating and monitoring a community benefits agreement, affordable housing development, accessibility, health and wellness and other key issues.
  • The Seaholm Ecodistrict sits in an ideal geographic location for its resource regeneration initiatives. Encompassing the mouth of the Shoal Creek watershed and abutting Lady Bird Lake, the site is rich in habitat and water resources. The area also has tremendous potential for connectivity, from the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge across the Lake to the planned Lone Star Rail and Capital Metro Rail terminal.

Next Steps

  • Support Seaholm through meeting EcoDistricts Certified requirements with project management. As neighborhood leadership moves through the certification process, EcoDistricts can provide technical support, training and serve as an information hub to connect the district with others for peer learning and the application of best practices. (2017-2019)
  • Create and devise key anti-displacement and sound equity engagement policies for the City. (2018-2020)

In Their Own Words

“The Seaholm plan featured sustainability strategies for individual parcels, but not overarching goals and strategies for the neighborhood as whole. The EcoDistricts helped us solidify and expand efforts and better articulate what Austin is trying to achieve at the neighborhood scale.”

– Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin