AUSTIN: Developers, City Want To Extend Lakeshore Blvd Through Parkland for Luxury Development

By David Martinez

The City of Austin Parks Department is reviewing a proposal by the Presidium Group developers to extend Lakeshore Blvd through Roy G. Guerrero Park in order to service their massive 97-acre luxury development, referred to as “Project Catalyst” but popularly known as the “Domain on Riverside.”

Parks staff brought up the review of the road extension proposal at a February 26 planning commission meeting, and the commission voted to indefinitely postpone the application, despite the protests of the developers’ agent Michael Whellan. Defend Our Hoodz – Defiende El Barrio (DOH), the revolutionary organization that has been leading the fight against the Domain on Riverside for the past year, disrupted the commission meeting in a continuation of their resistance to the project.

The road extension has been a hushed aspect of the Domain on Riverside plan, but the revelation of the developers’ request to tear through Roy G. Guerrero park will only raise the anger of working-class Austinites who are tired of seeing developers always getting their way.

DOH has called for the community to show out at a city-organized public meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 6 PM at the Carver Library (1161 Angelina St.) to oppose the project.

This site plan from the Presidium Group shows their request to extend Lakeshore Blvd.

The theft of parkland to serve a luxury project is an aggressive attack on the working class of Austin, which is under constant pressure from gentrification and luxury development. This developer demand is exceptional, even in Austin, where the city readily facilitates rapid displacement in order to increase real estate profits and tax revenue.

Public parks, especially in areas like East Austin, are one of the few parts of the city that remain accessible without fees or the primary expectation to engage in petite-bourgeois consumerism. The masses must resist the road extension, and make it clear that they will not cede designated parkland to developers.

“The small amount of land that is supposedly publicly owned is just for show under a capitalist society,” a DOH representative said. “It is never safe from the lust of the capitalist developers who only see it as potential for profit at the expense of the working class and masses.”

The site plan shows that the intersection where Lakeshore currently stops at Pleasant Valley Rd would become a four-way intersection, with Lakeshore continuing through what is currently a wooded area in Roy G. Guerrero Park. The road would wrap along the proposed Domain on Riverside, making it easier for the residents of the luxury mixed-use project to travel in the area.

In the rezoning applications for the Domain on Riverside, the lawyer aiding the developer states that this “urban village setting will create opportunities for seamless connectivity to Oracle.”

The letter accompanying the rezoning applications for Project Catalyst aka the ‘Domain On Riverside’

Oracle is the software giant who opened large offices in the East Riverside in 2017, accelerating the patterns of displacement and gentrification already occurring in the area. The Domain on Riverside has explicitly geared itself towards the company and the prospect of bringing luxury living and shopping to service the wealthy tech employees and executives who work there.

What’s clear is that public improvements are never prioritized for the working class, but are driven by the flow of capital as directed by the bourgeoisie and carried out through the willing bureaucracies of the capitalist state.

East Riverside, which is the last working-class bastion near central Austin, has also been a source of affordable housing for Austin’s large student population, in particular those UT students who can’t afford the high prices of West Campus. Riverside’s student population is also heavily composed of working students and Black, Chicano, and immigrant students, including those attending Austin’s smaller schools such as Huston-Tillotson (a historically Black college), St. Edward’s University, and Austin Community College.

The Domain on Riverside would displace nearly 4,000 students and workers currently living in the Town Lake, Ballpark North, and The Quad apartments, exerting even more pressure on the nearby areas, which are predominantly working class families, including many Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Students have a clear interest to stand in solidarity with the working class of Austin, and they have been mobilizing in the struggle alongside groups like DOH to stand against this massive luxury development.

Stopping this development will help defend the working-class Austinites in the area, but the fight must continue and build towards the only long-term solution to ending gentrification in our cities – the defeat of the US imperialist state and carrying out a dictatorship of the proletariat that will serve the needs of the working class.