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Activists want growth near Rainey Street slowed

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Activists are urging the city to slow some of the development in the Rainey Street area near the Mexican American Cultural Center.

It has been five years since the Emma Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center opened at River and Rainey Street.

"This is was the first Mexican-American neighborhood and for us it was always envisioned to be some kind of cultural district," said Paul Saldana.

He, along with a group of activists, is asking the city to evaluate the plans for surrounding property. The city was contemplating selling a lot next to the MACC for a proposed five-story building.

In October, after opposition from several in the Hispanic community, they nixed that idea. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department has held several public meetings since then to figure what to do with the plot of land.

"By in large, people are looking at a multipurpose space that really meets the needs of the community they brought up things like community gardens, places for children to play," said Laura Esparza with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

A list of recommendations is expected to go before council the first week of December. While that is being decided, Saldana says, there is another high-rise development threatening the view of the MACC.

"We consider the Emma S. Barrientos MACC to be an iconic building it's a piece of art itself," said Saldana.

According to the developer at 70 Rainey, a property diagonal from the MACC, the plan is for a multi-use building that will have about 300 residential units, retail, office space and will stand at least 30 stories.

That has some including Saldana looking for ways to slow the development process.

"We believe the city should consider a moratorium on the issuance of any new zoning cases in the area or any new site plans or building permits," said Saldana.

The developer told Fox 7 a moratorium would be inconsistent with the goal of the neighborhood which now includes restaurants, bars and residential development.

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