Texas CityLab will partner with Leander, TX in the 2015-2016 academic year. Located 25 miles outside of Austin, Leander is uniquely positioned to partner with CityLab due to its proximity to student, faculty, and staff resources on campus. All 2015-2016 participants will have the opportunity to travel to and from the city, learning first-hand about the relationship between development and sustainability and how community-driven research can positively impact a growing and increasingly vibrant city.
Leander enjoys strong economic growth, but like many Central Texas cities, it faces unique sustainability challenges as its population grows. City staff are preparing for the construction of 14,000 new homes and an Austin Community College branch. Capital Metro’s MetroRail now terminates in Leander, linking this small city with Austin and surrounding jurisdictions. In 2014, a referendum set aside 2,300 acres for Transit Oriented Development, an urban typology that maximizes multi-modal transportation options.
Leander and TCL are working with 10 UT classes in the 2015-16 academic year to develop research projects that support the city’s sustainability needs and goals. These research projects fit into one of three areas jointly identify by city and program staff:
1) Development of a plan for Leander’s downtown, including historic resources, green infrastructure, creek planning, and bike connectivity.
2) Creation of a citywide sustainability plan to address energy use, water conservation, waste and recycling, land use/transportation, and natural features.
3) Design and financial analysis of areas with mixed housing, retail, and office space in order to increase density, reduce dependence on automobiles, and improve quality of life.