Austin will relocate Waller Creek Boathouse to make way for a new transit line. Here’s where it could go.

A vacant hostel on South Lakeshore Boulevard has become the main relocation site for the Waller Creek Boathouse, a popular water recreation center on the shores of Lady Bird Lake.

In the decade since its opening, the city-owned boathouse has served people looking to relax on the lake in a rented boat and has been home base for some of the city’s best competitive rowers. city.

But the Waller Creek Boathouse has fallen in the way of one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Austin’s history: Project Connect, a $7 billion public transit extension that includes a light rail line intended directly for the installation of 10,800 square feet.

The Blue Line must travel from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to downtown Republic Square Park. The light rail line will cross Lady Bird Lake on a yet to be constructed transit bridge and enter an underground tunnel near the boathouse location at 74 Trinity Street.

The location at 2200 South Lakeshore Blvd. is one of six locations identified by city staff as possible new sites for the boathouse.

The South Lakeshore Boulevard site was the only location that met all of the city’s criteria, including being large enough and close enough to the shore. The site is also far enough from other water recreation facilities to help ease congestion on Lady Bird Lake, staff said.

This map produced by the city shows the six sites considered as alternatives for the boathouse.

Sites one and two are just west and just east of the MoPac Bridge, respectively. Both are on an old dump and would not be easily developed. They are also considered risky because the locations could conflict with either long-term plans being developed for Zilker Park or the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s proposed MoPac South toll lane, which could expand the MoPac bridge.

The third site featured is a baseball diamond used by Austin High School through an agreement between the city and the Austin Independent School District. This land is near the Texas Rowing Center and a popular boat launch. Going with that location would require finding an alternate site for the ballpark, staff said.

The fourth location is closer to the Waller Creek Boathouse. But the Trail Foundation, in cooperation with the city, is in the licensing phase of a plan to build family-friendly park amenities in this area. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

The fifth potential boathouse site is near the old Holly Power Station at Festival Beach. But there is already a long-term plan for this area dating back to 2009. Changing the “vision plan” to include a boathouse would require a new round of community engagement and a city council vote. The site also lacks sufficient utilities at this time, staff said.

There remains the sixth site: a youth hostel which closed its doors during the pandemic. The building is currently vacant and would require major renovations, but could accommodate a 7,000 square foot facility, city officials said.

A city map showing key locations around the youth hotel site

City staff presented this map highlighting the existing facilities around the old hostel.

The site currently has a canoe rental business which could be incorporated into the new boathouse. There is a small parking lot nearby and street parking along South Lakeshore Blvd.

The location at 2200 South Lakeshore Blvd. also responds to the City’s desire to distribute aquatic leisure facilities more equitably along the Lady Bird Lake waterfront.

The process of choosing a new location for the boathouse is still in its early stages. The city says it will consider public comments when making a final decision.

You can watch the city’s presentation of the six options below.

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