Sometimes the Right Thing Happens


RBJ Groundbreaking

Luci Baines Johnson, Mayor Adler, Pio Renteria and others celebrating a good thing.

There are pages and pages on the Internet dedicated to what is wrong with Austin: traffic, uncontrolled sprawl, affordability, gentrification, Californians :).... All of those things have their place in the puzzle, and they are all microcosms of larger issues at play in all of our cities here in the U.S. But sometimes diverse groups of people come together to create something truly good, and these efforts don't seem to get as much attention.

In my job at Nelsen Partners, I've had the opportunity to be involved with the redevelopment of the RBJ Senior Apartments, a 1970's residential tower on the east side that was built by LBJ and named after his mother, Rebecca Baines Johnson. After years of planning, it seems that the project is finally moving forward, and the official groundbreaking was held on Tuesday. Luci Baines Johnson, LBJ's daughter and well-known Austin resident, gave an inspiring speech about the legacy of LBJ's vision to take care of America's most vulnerable citizens, and praised the amount of collaboration between many different City constituents to make the project happen. 

Councilman Pio Renteria and State Representative Eddie Rodriguez took that point further in their speeches, and it was a point that needed to be heard. I won't bore you with the details of how this project is going to be funded and built, but this effort involves private developers, government officials at the City and State levels, neighborhood activists, bankers, real estate lawyers, design professionals, and most importantly the senior residents of RBJ themselves. All of this to create what will become a mixed-income, mixed-use, multi-generational neighborhood out of what is currently an isolated tower in a park. 

There is a growing amount of research to support the idea that seniors benefit from living in close proximity to other generations of people, with access to activities in their immediate neighborhood. I suspect this is true for all of us. There are many problems in the City to solve, to be sure, but projects like this give me hope that the various residents of this City - whatever age, income bracket, or ethnicity - will be able to live together and benefit from each others' company. Let's stay hopeful..