The area around Farmer's Market is not ideally suited for mixed use. According to the Urban Land Institute’s rule of thumb: 200,000 square feet of retail space, and 2,000 dwelling units within a ten minute walk, or about six blocks help to create a viable mixed use area. The Farmer's Market district as zoned would support about half that density. Also, the properties zoned for mixed use are spread out, so that half the "district" is not really within walking distance of the other half.
This part of Burnet is also poorly positioned to support higher traffic resulting from more housing. The closest rapid bus station planned by CapMetro is at Burnet and 2222, too far for many future residents to use on a regular basis. As traffic along Burnet slows down in the future, this area could become a choke-point.
However, since many developers have expressed interest in redevelopment in this area, SN is committed to shaping a vision for a neighborhood center that is as successful as possible. We think the key to success both for developers and for neighborhoods is a walkable, family-oriented district. In Austin, the only comparable product on the market is Mueller.
The Farmer's Market district can leverage existing family-friendly anchors: Lamar Middle School, nearby Northwest Park, and the Farmer's Market itself. Lamar began its Fine Arts Academy program in 2011. The buzz about the school is positive. Northwest Park has one of the few remaining public swimming pools in Austin. The Farmer's Market is integrated with the local community - the 2011 Violet Crown festival was held there for the first time.
To achieve this vision, we would want to see at least 40% family-friendly housing (3-BR, both private and public kid-friendly space onsite) for redevelopment in the area, preferably with townhomes and duplexes farther from the corridor. SN will also push for a connected series of small pocket parks that link the district together. A concept for such a network is shown below. We are also seeking clarification on whether the district will eventually be served by rapid bus.