By Dylan Disseno
Previously unpublished design plans for the Domain on Riverside in Austin show that the developers at Presidium Group intend to destroy the Parke Green shopping center at the Northeast corner of Riverside Dr. and Pleasant Valley Rd, a primary road intersection in the area. Parke Green contains many businesses frequented by the local working class and oppressed nations of the area, including Los Mangos Ice Cream, Taqueria La Chiapaneca, El Pollo Rico, Little Caesars, as well as Planet Fitness, a Chevron gas station and several other stores and salons.
Previous design plans presented for the Domain on Riverside have shown the Parke Green shopping center left intact, but the image received by Incendiary shows otherwise. Typically, developers will publish their latest layouts as a way to build up anticipation, but the risk of provoking even greater uproar to the already despised project may explain Presidium’s reluctance to release these most recent plans.
In addition to the transformation of Parke Green, the plans include a reference to a “Future Transit Plaza” located at Riverside Dr. and Pleasant Valley Rd. CapMetro, Austin’s public transportation provider, has discussed making changes to transit routes in the area and is pushing for a transit bond in 2020, but there are currently no finalized plans. Transit projects often develop in conjunction with gentrification to facilitate private interests.
After a year of militant protests to its development, Presidium has been forced to be cautious as it proceeds, fearing even greater backlash from the people of Riverside who patronize the area and who are fighting back against gentrification. The shopping center still has many businesses that are affordable to the working class and relevant to the community, especially the many immigrants from Mexico living in the area.
Incendiary spoke with Jenny, the owner of Taqueria La Chiapaneca, a Mexican food trailer set up next to the Chevron gas station. She and her husband, who also works construction, run the trailer, which she said is popular with local families and many students who endearingly refer to her as, “the lady that feeds us tacos.” She said she would love to make her spot more welcoming, with a built porch, but the lot owner has told her that he’s considering offers on the land and it wouldn’t be worth the investment.
She said the Domain on Riverside is going, “to take away a lot of opportunities for working people to provide for other working people in the neighborhood,” and that, ”Places would get replaced by expensive restaurants, not for working people.”
Tearing down Parke Green for the Domain on Riverside would be another major step in the gentrification of East Riverside. For over a year and a half, revolutionary organization Defend Our Hoodz (DOH) has led the community in a fierce struggle that has slowed down the luxury project, taking over 20 arrests as the city has tried to repress their fight. If built, the project would replace the Quad, Town Lake, and Ballpark North apartments, and now potentially the Parke Green shopping center, with 4700 luxury condos, 4 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail, and 600 hotel rooms, none of which are intended to serve the working class population of Riverside.
Presidium Group quietly purchased four of the five lots in the Parke Green shopping center on November 30, 2018 through a company named East Riverside Retail, LLC. Only the Chevron gas station lot has yet to be purchased by the developers. This information corroborates the intentions behind the previously unpublished plans.
Other properties near the Domain on Riverside project have also been purchased by speculator developers in the past year. Endeavor Real Estate Group bought the Dollar General lot on Pleasant Valley in March, and in December Armbrust & Brown PLLC, the law firm representing Presidium in their rezoning case, purchased 1410 S Pleasant Valley, the empty lot between The Food Spot and Waterloo Flats apartment complex.
Travis County Appraisal records indicate that many properties along South Pleasant Valley have greatly increased in value since 2018, including the 1410 S Pleasant Valley lot, which more than doubled. The plot at 1600 S Pleasant Valley, also owned by Presidium, has more than tripled in value, and was very briefly the site of the Pop Up Riverside Arts District before being shut down by repeated protests from DOH.
The newly revealed design plans and recent land purchases in the area make it clear to Riverside residents that capitalists want every piece of the working class community of East Riverside, and their city council servants are ready to serve it up to them on a silver platter. The Mayor and city council, most of whom have received financial backing from the Domain on Riverside developers, have voted to approve the rezoning on the previous two votes, and its possible they will give the green light for the project at their next council meeting on October 17, when the final vote on the project will take place.
DOH and Riverside residents are planning to rally once again against this luxury monstrosity. Regardless of how the vote goes, they will continue to fight the Domain on Riverside and any redevelopment of the apartments.