Highway “Cap and Stitch” as an Opportunity for Equitable Economic Development: The Austin Experience

November 01, 2023 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time Los Angeles Convention Center - West Hall, 515B Concurrent Session
Open to All Attendees
Equitable Development Infrastructure – Transportation and Transit Public and Private Partnerships
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Historically, major highways in American downtowns have divided communities and resulted in racial and socioeconomic injustices. Now, they present opportunities to right past wrongs and achieve greater prosperity and equity. Many cities across the country are experimenting with the “cap and stitch” concept, which aims to shrink the footprint of the highway; cap the lowered highway; and stitch the bridges. Cap-and-stitch projects are major market makers for the real estate industry. First, improvements to infrastructure access and the public realm increase market demand. Second, through newly built caps, additional developable lands are provided. However, without careful planning, these new opportunities might raise prices, exacerbate gentrification, and perpetuate the divide. In Austin, one such cap-and-stitch project is underway. The city and its partners are actively engaging the community, the real estate industry, and major institutions to put equity at the center of economic development and real estate strategies. This panel will draw on the Austin experience to share lessons learned on how to co-create a vision with the community; plan for inclusive economic growth; and develop a funding plan and operations strategy as early as possible.