Why does Plaza Saltillo exist? If anyone knows anything about how “improvement projects” work, one will understand that the residents had very little to do with how it has shaped their community. On June 29, 1995, a resolution was signed to make Plaza Saltillo a companion park to Republic Square, since both parks would be located on 4th Street.
The full resolution detailed homage to Mexican culture and art, and how attractive the area was going to become. At the time, however, there were several lingering business sites, and the zoning was designated as “Light Industrial.” Before all the development was done around the site, the area looked similar to this:
The lingering business sites were then capable of being seen as “blight,” which the city used to declare that the area was in an “emergency state.” Because the decision to create Plaza Saltillo was “so fast,” an ordinance had to be approved to secure the funding:
The terms “public peace,” “health,” and “safety” were very important to include, because Plaza Saltillo was, in fact, urban renewal before the passage of the “New Vision for East Austin.” “Slum clearance” made it possible to change the zoning and build for beautification. The new facility was also part of an update to the Austin Bicycle Plan, referring to the area as the “Plaza Saltillo Open Air Market.”
Only after the area was designed to the liking of the local government did the area become “transit-oriented development.”