thinkEAST Progress

July 2016 Update

The report is finally ready! After two years of planning, visioning, and community input we have completed the report from our Living Charrette and masterplanning process. Thanks to everyone who helped pull the information together (Fusebox, TBG Partners, City of Austin Economic Development Department, Bullseye Business Development, and all our interns and volunteers). CLICK HERE to download the full report (PDF - 26MB).

March 2016 Update

Where We’ve Been

The thinkEAST Living Charrette core team (owners Richard deVarga & Robert Summers, non-profit arts organization Fusebox, entrepreneur Fred Schmidt and City of Austin Economic Development Department) guided 18 months of deep community and stakeholder engagement that was informed by a diverse Stakeholder Advisory Group made up of about 30 individuals including life-long residents, artists, business owners, educators, city officials, architects, designers, bankers, non-profit leaders, and others. Over 2,700 people participated in the planning process through meetings, conversations, presentations, and a Living Charrette hosted on the thinkEAST site as part of the Fusebox Festival in April 2015. The goal of the “pop-up” village was to demonstrate to stakeholders and the neighborhood what ideas were rising to the surface, and invite additional feedback from the community, festival-goers, and the entire city.

The Living Charrette included 66 events and activities ranging from talks, workshops, performances, installations, and more traditional design engagement methods like visual preference boards, community asset maps, and interviews with planners. The Living Charrette covered about two acres and featured prototypes of creative industries (galleries, fashion manufacturing cooperative), a micro living unit, a design center, a community workshop space, local food/drink vendors, walking trails, a zero-waste initiative and solar power station. The Living Charrette engaged the full spectrum of stakeholders in the project by having activities for all ages, materials in English and Spanish, and programming targeted for neighbors and visitors alike.

Where We Are

Gigabytes of data and feedback from the community and stakeholders over this 18-month period have been incorporated into a Community Vision and Master Plan for thinkEAST. This document is currently being edited and proofread (all 96+ pages) and will be available on this site as soon as that work is complete.

Based on the priorities and ideas from stakeholders we arrived at five project pillars for development at thinkEAST: affordability, health, environmental sustainability + open space, education, and arts + culture.

The plan calls for:

  • About 300 units of affordable housing for families earning 60% and below AMFI
  • 9 acres of public space including parkland and space for community gardens
  • Space for innovative community health hub and/or health services
  • About 4 acres dedicated to spaces for arts, culture, and creative industries
  • About 100 units of live/work space targeting artists and creative industries
  • Market-based housing and retail

Some of these elements are already moving into implementation including:

  • 6 acres of thinkEAST has been sold to Housing Authority for the City of Austin (HACA) to develop 170+  units of 100% affordable housing
  • About 4 acres is under contract to the Cesar Chavez Foundation to develop about 150 units of mixed-income housing including affordable housing ranging from 30% Area Median Family Income (AMFI) to market rate
  • 4.5 acres is under contract to Fusebox to develop a Cultural Trust that would create up to 240k SF of permanently affordable space for arts, culture, creative industries, and health. This site could include artist studios, performance and rehearsal spaces, non-profit offices, a health clinic, and community spaces.
  • 2 acres of thinkEAST is currently available for market rate housing and live/work units

Where We’re Going

Recently, the thinkEAST planning team has been meeting with city officials from Economic Development, the Mayor’s Office, City Council members, neighborhood associations, the Arts Commission, the Music Commission, and others about the details of this plan and progress being made to address:

  • The completion of the Shady/Jain Lane Capital Improvement Project
  • thinkEAST’s possible role in Mayor Adler’s “Spirit of East Austin” initiative
  • Solutions for the “La Loma” trails and connectivity issues
  • Creating a new northern entrance to Govalle Park at thinkEAST
  • Progress on the CMTA Green Line and “Rail Trail” idea that came up in our planning process
  • The creation of an East Austin Cultural District that might include thinkEAST and other businesses, schools, and organizations in the Springdale/Airport corridor

There has been a lot of progress made in the past two years, but plenty left to do before any construction begins on site. Over the next six months, a lot of energy will be put toward addressing essential infrastructure needs (i.e. Shady/Jain Ln) and completing sales of the land to our nonprofit partners at the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Fusebox. The development of thinkEAST will happen in stages, but we estimate construction could begin as early as 2017.

In the weeks ahead we will post the full Community Vision and Master Plan document to the thinkEAST website. We will also continue to keep you updated on the progress being made to realize the vision so many of you helped shape.


April 2015 through June 2015: Synthesis Stage

In June, the thinkEAST team held a public meeting at Allan Elementary School to an early draft of a full site plan. More information about this meeting may be found here

Meanwhile, the team has been busy putting together plans for possible on-site community health, affordable housing, and arts non-profit spaces and researching non-traditional forms of ownership and governance.

April 2015: The Living Charrette

See our report from the Living Charrette to learn more about the engagement process, the community input, and the events that took place as part of Fusebox Festival 2015. 

July 2014 through March 2015: Planning Stage

During this period, the thinkEAST team had over 300 small meetings with neighborhood residents, artists, and other stakeholders in preparation for April's Living Charrette.