WHAT’S NEXT TO ENJOY AT HIGHLAND MALL SITE
2 acres on edge of former Highland Mall intended for use by community.
A patch of asphalt on the southern edge of the former Highland Mall site in Central Austin will soon be transformed into a lush 2-acre public park.
The project is part of a bigger effort by Austin Community College, which now owns the property, to transform it into a bustling neighborhood with a college campus, housing, offices, shops, restaurants and other amenities in partnership with Austin developer RedLeaf Properties.
Work on the park — one of three planned for ACC Highland — is now underway near the former Dillard’s women’s store and is expected to be completed this fall. The park will be accessible from both Airport Boulevard and Clayton Lane, developers say.
“This area was once the location of overflow parking for Highland Mall,” RedLeaf Properties principal Matt Whelan said in a written statement, “and we’re incredibly proud to transform this former gray utilitarian place into a green, active space that will bring new life and vitality to the area.”
Plans call for the 2-acre park to be heavily landscaped. A pair of heritage oak trees will be relocated to the park from elsewhere on the property, with a number of other trees set to be planted such as Mexican sycamores, bur oaks and cedar elms.
When the entire property is fully redeveloped, RedLeaf Properties and ACC estimate they will have added about 1,000 trees to the former mall site.
“Given all the people who will use this space — students, faculty, staff, residents, surrounding neighbors — this new space is designed to accommodate workday, evenings and weekend activi-
ties,” said Chris Jackson with TBG Partners, the park’s principal designer. “It’s a place people will want to visit to quietly study, throw a ball or catch a Frisbee, go for a run or walk, meet up with friends or family or take in nature in an area where there hasn’t been any for nearly 50 years.”
Amenities at the park will include benches, a play lawn, a fitness station and space for community gardens.
The first phase of a fitness trail that will loop the property will also be constructed along with the park.
“Highland is rich with history and ACC is committed to honoring its legacy,” ACC president and CEO Richard Rhodes said. “Transforming these concrete spaces into inviting green parks for the community has been paramount to our redevelopment. “This project is about renewing hope and building better lives. Learning is at the core and these spaces will only enhance that environment for our students and employees and the hundreds who will visit, live and work at Highland.”
Other projects underway at ACC Highland include a pair of apartment complexes. Elan Parkside, which will have 300 units and 5,000 square feet of retail space, is expected to begin preleasing soon, while another project announced in June will bring 390 more apartments and an addi- tional 25,000 square feet of retail space when it opens in late 2018 or early 2019.
Meanwhile, in the former mall building itself, ACC is continuing buildout of spaces, creating additional classrooms, labs and offices for students and staff.
A heritage tree relocated from elsewhere on the former Highland Mall site will be placed in the new 2-acre park. Some 1,000 trees will be added the complex.