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Parking problems persist on Rainey St. as more condos and hotels open

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By Yoojin Cho – KXAN News Austin

(Read the original article here)

A new high rise is set to open early next year on Rainey Street. 70 Rainey is expected to add hundreds of residents to an already busy entertainment district.

The condo building will top out at 34 stories and will have 164 units. “We truly have unparalleled views of looking down the river,” said CJ Sackman, managing director of Sackman Enterprises.

Rainey Street is part of the Central Business District, which is a zoning designation for high-density areas. That’s how condo developers can build skyscrapers in the area. That also means the city doesn’t necessarily tell the developers how many parking spots they should create.

Sackman explained, “It’s market-driven, so you’ll have one parking space for one bedroom, 2 for 2 bedrooms, 2 for 3 bedrooms, 3 for penthouses.”

For 70 Rainey, because they wanted their residents to have unobstructed views of Lady Bird Lake, they added more parking spaces than needed. Sackman said they actually have 70 extra spots that can be used by visitors to the area.

Just up the street, another major addition to downtown is set to open its doors. The new Fairmont hotel will open at Red River Street and East Cesar Chavez Street. The spokesman for the hotel told KXAN the hotel will have more than 500 parking spots.

Many people who live and work on Rainey Street, however, say their worries remain.

“Driving on this street is just a nightmare,” said Alex Vargas, who works as a restaurant manager on Rainey Street. He told KXAN he and many other employees park on the other side of I-35 and walk to work. “I give myself another 15 minutes to walk from my vehicle to my place of business,” Vargas said. “That’s another 15 minutes of my day and depending on what day it is, that adds to my time in traffic because traffic is always pretty crazy.”

Last year, Big Red Dog Engineering conducted a traffic and parking study for Rainey Street. The 122-page report examined the current state of the neighborhood and estimated future growth would add 750 condos and 2,000 apartments.

The study made some suggestions.

Those suggestions included:

  • Extending Rainey Street from Driskill Street to East Cesar Chavez Street
  • Completing the pedestrian walkway network
  • Adding public bicycle parking
  • Providing signage for parking
  • Improving pedestrian and bicycle access from I-35

But many people said it’ll take more creative solutions to alleviate parking issues. “As someone that’s born and raised here I’m happy to have people move here, like I said it’s a problem we gotta figure out,” Vargas said.

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