The City of Austin has many datasets available for public use. One of those is the construction dataset, which includes over 1.7 million construction permits starting from the late 1970’s. Here is an analysis of some of that data.

New Construction Permits in Austin

Gradient

This graph shows the average location for each new construction permit, for each year since data has been collected. The color shift represents the year, while the size of the dot represents the standard deviation of the average GPS location for each new construction project, i.e. the greater the standard deviation, the farther apart each project is from one another on average. One thing to notice is that there is almost a counterclockwise pattern happening from past to present (black to blue). A noticeable shift to the East (and North), which isn’t a surprise to anyone living in Austin. This is keynoted by the Mueller developments happening in Northeast Austin.

The other thing to notice is that the standard deviation is smallest for the earliest years, although the number of permits recorded was quite low until 1981, where it goes over 10,000 for the first time.

NewPermits

Austin saw incredible development growth in the 1980’s with a nearly equal decline by the end of the decade. There are noticeable drops again in 2001, and 2008 (both recession years). Since 2012 Austin has again, had impressive increases in new building construction. This data was collected mid-2017 so the final year can be ignored for this analysis.

Permits <500

This is another representation of the construction permits data, but this time by month instead of by year, with the commercial and residential permits separate from one another. This is the complete construction dataset, not just the new construction permits. This data also shows the decline in construction for 2001 and 2008.

SD smooth

Ignoring the pre-1980’s due to the low sample size, the average distance between construction permits (standard deviation) has steadily been increasing up until around 2008 and has since been decreasing. There are many factors not being taken into account, but this is a preliminary indicator of an increase in urban density.

Takeaways

  • The geographical shift of new construction in Austin has shifted south between 1980 and 2000 and has had an East, and Northward resurgence since. The Past two years of new construction in Austin has been further East than any other year in recorded history.
  • The average distance between construction projects has been declining since the mid-2000’s, but the pattern is weak and will need future years of data to confirm this assumption.