February 3, 2023

City seeking public input on new Dougherty Arts Center

The new municipal arts center is currently slated to be built on lakeside parkland just off South Lamar Blvd.


The city of Austin is moving forward with plans to replace the Dougherty Arts Center, and it’s now seeking some community input.

In 2019, the Austin city council approved moving the Dougherty Arts Center (DAC) from its current location on Barton Springs Road to the city lakeside parkland site on Toomey Road next to the headquarters of the Parks and Recreation Department which oversees the DAC.

With the project currently in the design phase, the city is now soliciting community input.

Virtual Community Meeting #1 will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 28. Register here

The new DAC would share the site, known as Butler Shores, with Zach Theatre, which was built with $10.8 million of voter-approved city bond money. Proposed plans show a 200-space parking garage to be built between Zach and the new Dougherty. Two AISD ballfields currently located on the parkland would be moved.

A conceptual rendering at the new Dougherty Arts Center A conceptual rendering at the new Dougherty Arts Center building from the west side, shown for with the height of the current center for context. Image: City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department / RVi / Studio8

Conceptual designs for the new arts center show a 40,000-square-foot building which is roughly 50 percent larger than the current facility. It features two theaters, a gallery, as well as classroom and studio spaces.

Austin voters approved bonds in November 2018 for the $28.5 million needed to relocate and build a new municipal arts center.

Built in 1947 as a temporary structure to house a Naval and Marine Reserve Center, the DAC’s current building was actually due to be razed when it was passed to the city for use as an arts center in 1978. Situated along Bouldin Creek and built atop a landfill site, the building is prone to regular flooding and well within a floodplain zone. A conditions assessment completed in 2010 found the DAC building beyond repair.



  1. I agree with Margi Tenney that affordability and access are important. Will there be a wet lab photographic darkroom? There are photographic methods that can’t be done any other way and it is essential for learning the history of photographic processes and photographic preservation.

  2. A community art center is a worthy idea, and DAC has provided lots of great arts programs over the years. Great idea to have a parking garage included. Question about location: with three condos existing and another to be built where Schlotsky’s was located on the corner, how does the City plan to handle the traffic with another 200 cars using Toomey. Toomey is already extremely crowded during ACL and the Trail of Lights. Plus, attendees at ZACH productions need parking. Hopefully, large programs will be well coordinated among venues so that the parking nightmares that have often existed at the Long Center and the Palmer due to overlapping programming will not occur on Toomey with the new DAC.

  3. Would like more info about parking. All it says is parking structure. How many spaces? Will there be a charge for parking? One of the lovely things about Dougherty was the affordability of classes and the easy access. That opened up the classes and programs to greater diversity. That needs to be preserved. The more money it costs to get into the space the less diversity you will have.

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