Fires damage historic Buford Tower, encampments around the city

The Austin Fire Department was busy Thursday night and early Friday morning, responding to three fires and eight burning violations at encampments for people experiencing homelessness. One of the fires—believed to have spread from a nearby camp—did about $12,000 in damage to Buford Tower, a historic landmark on West Cesar Chavez Street formerly used for firefighter training (ironic? too on the nose?). One Friday morning there was also a fire at Esperanza Community, a state-designated encampment near US-183 and Montopolis where more than 100 people live, and another at an ecampment on Bastrop Highway; there was also a fire Thursday afternoon near I-35 and Riverside Drive. No injuries from the fires have been reported (Austin American-Statesman, KXAN)

Have something to say about the planned I-35 expansion through downtown Austin?

We're guessing you do. April 6 deadline for commentary for this round of input on plans by the Texas Department of Transportation to expand, sink, or do something that's not removal to a stretch of  I-35 that runs through Central Austin. TxDOT's website is where you want to go to put in your two cents. The Austin Chronicle's Mike Clark-Madison this week offers a great summary of the issues and history surrounding the project, decades in the making (and still without a specific plan). (TxDOT website, Austin Chronicle)

East Austin zoning changes are popping up everywhere

The area of East Austin around Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard has seen a bumper crop of rezoning recommendations and approvals in the past few months. In March, the city Planning Commission recommended Planned Unit Development designation for a 30-acre lot near that intersection as well as Vertical Mixed Use for a smaller tract nearby. Goodwin Apartments, another project in the area, has also been rezoned for VMU and built-in affordable housing. Meanwhile in another part of East Austin, a site on Johnny Morris Road was recently rezoned for commercial-mixed use, which allows residential development. Bedrock Capital Partners' Texas Coldworkers originally planned to develop the 15-acre site as a cold-storage facility but pivoted in response to neighborhood concerns and Austin's need for more housing. (Austin Business Journal)

More headlines:

Austin, Travis County extend eviction ban through May 1 (Community Impact)

Austin’s newest green space rolls into next phase with cool skate park (Culture Map Austin)

Is Austin real estate in a bubble? Experts weigh in. (Austin Business Journal)

Tolls or no tolls? City and state preferences differ for new I-35 lanes (Austin Monitor)

Corporate giants come out against Republicans' efforts to restrict voting in Texas (KEYE)