East Riverside-Oltorf

East Riverside-Oltorf is an Austin neighborhood located southeast of the city’s downtown. The East Riverside-Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Planning Area is made up of the East Riverside, Parker Lane, and Pleasant Valley areas. The region is limited on the north by Lake Lady Bird, on the east by Grove Boulevard and the Montopolis neighborhood, on the south by Texas State Highway 71, and on the west by Interstate 35 and South River City.

East Riverside Drive is a busy thoroughfare just minutes from downtown Austin, yet it was a neglected part of town until recently. The City of Austin has designated it as an essential development corridor in addition to being a main route between Downtown Austin and the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. There has recently been a lot of interest in redeveloping numerous major properties in the neighborhood.


According to US Census Bureau data, the area population in 2009 was 50,133 people. The population density per square mile is 6,504, which is more than double the citywide average of 2,610. The typical age is 25 years old, and the median annual family income is more than $27,884.

According to the 2010 American Community Survey, the neighborhood was home to an estimated 5,598 undergraduate students. Between 2000 and 2010, the white population among college-age citizens fell from 44 percent to 29 percent, while Asians fell from 9.7 percent to 6 percent. The number of college-age Hispanics climbed from 37% to 47%, while African-Americans increased from 6% to 9%.

19th century history

Prior to the twentieth century, much of the East Riverside-Oltorf area was part of the Del Valle land grant, which Benjamin Milam purchased from the Mexican government in 1825. During the Texas Revolution, the property grant was later deeded to Santiago Del Valle, a government officer representing Coahuila y Tejas.

Hugh Tinnin bought 500 acres of land south of the Colorado River, west of the present-day Pleasant Valley Road, in 1850. Around 100 slaves chopped timber from the shore and constructed a big home and huts in what is now Travis Heights. Tinnin established a ford across the river in 1854, which became part of the Chisolm Trail. The trail passed via the present-day Peace Point peninsula, Snake Island, and across the river to the Longhorn Dam.

The twentieth century

The East Riverside-Oltorf area remained primarily rural until the mid-twentieth century, with several massive tracts of land still deeded to the Del Valle land grant. The Austin Country Club started in 1949 on land purchased from the Del Valle grant. Along Penick Place, golfer Harvey Penick, a teacher at the Country Club, developed a small cluster of residences facing the golf course. Fagan Dickson and Roberta Crenshaw owned a cattle farm between Pleasant Valley Road and the Country Club. In 1973, the Dicksons petitioned to rebuild their 497 acres into “The Crossing,” a huge planned unit development separated into 25 sections. Lakeshore Boulevard was extended from Pleasant Valley Road along the river to Montopolis Drive as part of the development. The final product was a handful of lots encompassed by Crossing Place and Faro Drive; Crenshaw eventually gave 30 acres to establish Roy G. Guerrero Park and sold the remaining land to developers for student housing.

The City of Austin collaborated with the University of Texas in the 1970s to build off-campus housing for students between East Riverside and Lakeshore Drive.

Following the closure of Bergstrom Air Force Base in 1993, the neighborhood’s demographics began to shift. East Riverside-Oltorf became one of Austin’s busiest entry points for immigrant households, particularly from Mexico, Latin America, and Asia, in the 1990s. [9]

The twenty-first century

The City of Austin established a University Neighborhood Overlay area on the city’s West Campus in 2004, allowing for the construction of higher-density buildings. This allowed more University of Texas students to live on West Campus, causing East Riverside to lose prominence as a location for off-campus student housing. The City of Austin developed the East Riverside Combined Neighborhood Plan in November 2006, which called for the redevelopment of the neighborhood’s aging apartment complexes, increased density and walkability, and proposed mixed-use development to serve a proposed high-capacity transit corridor along East Riverside Drive, including light rail or bus rapid transit. Following the creation of the neighborhood plan, two mixed-use developments, Lakeshore PUD and South Shore PUD, which replaced former garden apartment complexes, were approved in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Concerns over gentrification arose in the late 2010s as redevelopment in East Riverside increased. Oracle Corporation purchased and demolished an apartment complex between Lakeshore and Elmont Drive in 2015 in order to construct its new office campus, which opened in 2018. The Austin City Council voted in October 2019 to rezone 97 acres north of East Riverside Drive and east of Pleasant Valley Road for a major mixed-use development on the site of five student apartment complexes. The proposed “River Park” development will destroy existing dwellings and build 4,709 multifamily units, 600 hotel rooms, 4 million square feet of office space, 435,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, and 60,000 square feet of medical and dental office space.

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