Great day to be Verde! Austin FC plays preseason game, new soccer venue opens, and fans watch from Verde Hill
North Austin's Parmer Pond was filled with Verde Wednesday as Austin FC opened its doors to the media for the first time this season to watch a preseason matchup against Toronto FC at its practice field, St. David's Performance Center.
Although the team lost 2-1, the friendly match was a chance to watch last year's fan favorites, like Diego Fagundez and Brad Stuver, play alongside new talents including Maxi Urruti, the former Houston Dynamo striker who scored Austin's lone goal of the match.
32’ | Maxi goooooool!
The Captain with the assist.#TORvATX 1-1 pic.twitter.com/sQIdVv2i6h
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) February 9, 2022
Familiar chants from fan band La Murga echoed into the practice field in Northeast Austin as they looked onto the match from above at what they call the Verde Hill.
Austin FC fan band La Murga de Austin weren't allowed inside St. David's, but they still watched from afar atop the "Verde Hill" as the team played its preseason match. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
And after the match, fans and media alike could snag food and drinks from new Verde entertainment hub The Pitch, which had its soft opening Wednesday at Parmer Pond.
The Pitch began filling up with customers on its soft open Wednesday as fans looked to get food and drinks at the new facility. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
Austin's second matchup of the season saw a hodgepodge of players new and old. The starting lineup included last season's strongholds Stuver and Fagundez, while Captain Alex Ring and Daniel Pereira took the midfield. Right back Nick Lima, center back Jhohan Romana, and star forwards Sebastian Driussi and Cecilio Dominguez also took to the pitch.
But it was Urruti who stood out most as he notched a goal in the 32nd minute off a Ring assist, and by the second half, more new players had entered the mix. Head Coach Josh Wolff's son, Owen Wolff, was joined by midfielder Jhojan Valencia, who made it to Austin from his home country of Colombia just four days before, and MLS vet Felipe Martins entered the pitch just two days after his signing was announced.
Promising young center back Kipp Keller, who was Austin FC's No. 1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft this offseason and played in the first half of the match, said the three weeks of preseason have been a chance to adapt to a higher level of play and build chemistry with his new teammates.
"It's definitely what I expected," Keller said. "I knew it was going to be hard, but I'm getting used to it day by day and just trying to learn from these big-time players. It's pretty cool, playing with these guys I looked up to my whole life."
Even with Urruti's goal, Austin could never regain momentum after Toronto scored on a penalty kick less than 10 minutes into the match and later scored again in the second half. But with a year under their belt, Stuver said the team's challenges are fewer as they head into the season with a more experienced and cohesive group.
"Last year, we had to learn to teach a system, learning everything from scratch on the field (and) off the field," Stuver said. "From day one, we were able to say, 'Hey, we know exactly what's expected of us.' Now we have to get up to that level quick."
Fans will no longer have to crane their necks on the Verde Hill as Austin FC hosts its first open match of the season in an international friendly against current Liga MX champions Atlas FC at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
- Austin FC entertainment hub The Pitch in the works - austonia ›
- Austin FC signs Felipe Martins ahead of 2022 MLS season - austonia ›
- What fans new and old can expect for Austin FC's second season ... ›
- Austin FC signs MLS midfielder Ethan Finlay for 2022 season ... ›
- Austin FC resigns, promotes Captain Alex Ring - austonia ›
- Austin FC signs Maxi Urruti for 2022 season - austonia ›
- Austin FC announces four-match preseason schedule ahead of ... ›
- Austin FC coach talks MLS' 2022 season - austonia ›
- Austin FC gets 'sentimintal' with new minty fresh jerseys - austonia ›
- Austin FC Sporting Director talks NYCFC and building MLS champs - austonia ›
By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.