T6

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The T6 Transect is the highest-activity, highest-intensity transect described in the CodeNEXT draft form-based code. If Austin is to create physical and economic mobility while reducing our environmental burden, it is essential that our code for walkable high-activity zones is well executed. This must include not only a vision for an “end goal” of developed land but a process for continuous incremental redevelopment.

Specifications

T6U

Max Footprints
Allowed Form Min. Lot Dims Min Lot Size Ground Upper Floor Max u/ac Max Stories Max Sq. Footage Max u/ac Max FAR Impervious Cvr Building Cvr
Main Street 40x100 4000 275x100 150x65** 600* 16* 180* N/A 244750 61.1875 1 0.95
Mid-Rise 75x100 7500 300x300 150x65 600* 16* 180* N/A 557250 74.3 1 0.95
High-Rise/Tower 100x100 10000 300x300 150x65** 700* 16* 180* N/A 557250 55.725 1 0.95

T6UC

Max Footprints
Allowed Form Min. Lot Dims Min Lot Size Ground Upper Floor Max u/ac Max Stories Max Sq. Footage Max u/ac Max FAR Impervious Cvr Building Cvr
Mid-Rise 75x100 7500 300x300 150x65 N/A 1 0.95
High-Rise/Tower 75x100 10000 300x300 300x300*** N/A 1 0.95

Notes

* Maximum achievable w/ affordable housing incentives program

** CN does not specify a width for upper floors - 150' used.

*** Floors 6-8 are undefined, used 300x300. Floors 9+ are at 60% of site.

The Problem

The T6 transect sets lofty and admirable goals for supporting economic and civic activity with walking, biking, and public transportation as primary means of getting around. Some of the code needs updates in order for outcomes to achieve these goals. While every recommendation listed below has the possibility to be make or break development on particular sites, the recommendations which will have the most district-wide importance are those that change the tide from discouraging to encouraging incremental development, including buildings on smaller lots.

The T6 zone also is not on the map anywhere -- downtown ended up mapped as nontransect zones CC and DC. This presents a problem: the 40% cap on parking reductions, combined with the parking requirements for CC/DC zoning and the draft zoning map, imply that the current parking exemption for CBD is not carried forward. Downtown is thriving without parking requirements as-is, and by many measures is over-parked with off-street parking. Recently built and currently proposed projects are making decisions based on the market parking demands, and doing just fine without the city mandating anything. We're finally getting to the point where a few large projects are being constructed with zero parking - this is a great thing! Full exemption from parking requirements needs to be allowed for CC and DC zoning, which coordinates well with the T6U and T6UC zones.

Recommendations

Comment Page/Section
Remove all minimum lot widths. Narrow lots promote walkability; if construction constraints allow tall buildings on narrow lots, code should not restrict it. Allowing construction on existing narrow lots allows for greater incremental development. 4D2-103/4, 4D2-111/2
Remove restriction on floorplates larger than floorplate below; this technique is useful in constructing buildings with visual interest, access to open-air decks, and many other purposes. 4D2-104, 4D2-112
Eliminate intermediate tier of stepbacks and floorplate maxima, which eliminates valuable sidewalk shade and creates awkward 3-floor stepback tier. Change floor 9+ stepback and height maxima to same numbers as floor 6-8 in current draft. 4D2-104/5,

4D2-112/3

Eliminate 30,000 sf cap on high-rise area. Needless restriction on Austin’s jobs capacity. 4D2-104,

4D2-112

Clarify ground-floor finish level. If 18” residential minimum doesn’t apply to multi-family, where does it apply? There are no non-MF residential types in these zones. 4D2-105,

4D2-112

Replace unclear “floor-to-ceiling” wording with “floor-to-floor” or “floor-to-structure”. 4D2-105,

4D2-112

Reduce ground-floor height to 9’ except in T6U-R. Additional floor height cost-prohibitive for economically diverse residential construction. 4D2-105,

4D2-112

Eliminate open space requirement. This runs counter to the goals of this transect by encouraging residents to use private building common space rather than public urban common space, such as parks, restaurants, public plazas. It also adds prohibitive expense to all but luxury residential construction, eliminating the possibility of economic diversity. 4D2-108,

4D2-116

Change “Group Home: 7 to 15 Residents” to P from CUP. 4D2-109,

4D2-117

Allow the following building types in T6U and T6U-C: Main St, Low-Rise, and Rowhouse. Smaller buildings do not detract from larger ones. Allowing smaller building types allow density to grow incrementally as it becomes economically viable. This gives more flexibility for mapping to be imperfect instead of omniscient about trends in viability. 4D2-104,

4D2-112

The 40% cap on parking reductions, combined with the parking requirements for CC/DD zoning and the draft zoning map, imply that the current parking exemption for CBD is not carried forward. Why was this huge policy decision made? Downtown is thriving without parking requirements as-is, and by many measures is over-parked with off-street parking. Recently built and currently proposed projects are making decisions based on the market parking demands, and doing just fine without the city mandating anything. We're finally getting to the point where a few large projects are being constructed with zero parking - this is a great thing! Please remove the 40% reduction cap altogether. Allow full exemption from parking requirements for CC and DC zoning, which coordinates well with the T6U and T6UC zones
The stepback of the first floor to within 80' of the front property line must be removed from the residential non-transect zones LDR, LMDR, MDR, and MHDR. It will prevent two-story ADUs further than 80' from the front property line, which can be a meaningful and unnecessary barrier for deep lots. What is the justification for this?