100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Two weeks ago, as Texas continued its pandemic reopening plan but before mass protests against police violence erupted in downtown Austin, a $275 million deal fell through.
Ryman Hospitality Properties announced May 22 that it would not purchase Block 21, a mixed-use real estate development that includes ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the W Austin, from Stratus Properties, forfeiting a $15 million nonrefundable deposit.
"In the current capital markets and economic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have determined that it is not in the best interest of our shareholders to focus our resources and capital on this project at this time," Ryman CEO Colin Reed said in a press release.
In the wake of COVID's arrival in Austin—and after more than a decade of strong sustained growth—the local office real estate market contracted. But experts say that the city is poised to recover, even if office space looks different post-pandemic.
"I think what you'll see in Austin is short-term paralysis as a result of the freeze in the venture market," said Ryan Bohls, a director focused on office tenant representation for NAI Partners' Austin office.
But in the longer term, Bohls believe Austin's strong relationships with what he calls "the four horsemen"—Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google—will sustain the city's office market, especially as they and other tech companies seek to expand their reach into cities outside of the coastal areas hit harder by the pandemic.
The city's diverse economy—which includes big tech as well as the University of Texas at Austin, Ascension Seton and most recently the U.S. Army—is what helped it rebound after the 2008 recession.
Ben Tolson, a principal for Aquila Commercial, believes that diverse economy will carry the city through this crisis as well. "I just feel very, very positively about how our city's positioned relative, again, to much of the nation," he said.
While data is limited, initial reports indicate that market activity picked up toward the end of May. As more workers return to their offices, companies will likely reevaluate their needs.
Richard Paddock, who oversees HPI's Austin office portfolio, said he is hearing from tenants and companies that most are incorporating a work-from-home strategy into their business plans. But this does not mean office space is obsolete.
Paddock anticipates some companies will downsize, which may reduce the overall occupied square footage across Austin's office market. "But it still yields velocity," he said.
Other companies may realize they want more space, either to accommodate social distancing or because of trends that predate the pandemic.
Research published in the Harvard Business Journal found that denser offices resulted in less meaningful interaction among employees—and therefore less productive collaboration.
Open-floor plans were on their way out before COVID-19, Tolson said, as companies moved to "de-densify" their spaces and improve productivity. "That's going to be accelerated as a result of this," he said.
There was also a trend in Austin toward neighborhoods such as East Austin, Mueller and Parmer Lane, where office space is cheaper, parking easier and commutes shorter. "Austin has a tremendous amount of really well positioned mid-rise [and] low-rise opportunities," Tolson said.
While working from home may outlast the pandemic, Bohls said major employers will continue to use top-tier offices—with prime locations, walkable amenities and perks—as a recruiting tool, "especially for technology companies that use real estate to lure top talent."
And what about the protests downtown?
"The effects of the civic unrest are largely going to be confined to first-floor retail occupiers," Bohls said.
- Reopening Austin offices plan for one-way foot traffic, sanitizing ... ›
- See Austin's new Apple campus under construction - austonia ›
- Prime downtown Austin waterfront property goes up for sale as longtime ad agency moves on - austonia ›
After a long, long year without live music, Austin has waited patiently for a return that has finally come. Festivals are planning returns and even venues that adhered strictly to safety protocols during the pandemic are feeling safe enough to gather again in person.
Starting in just a few short days, you can finally enjoy what makes Austin, well, Austin again. Here are a few of the live shows to look forward to.
Stubb's Waller Creek
For the first time since the pandemic shut the iconic venue down forcing canceled and rescheduled shows, Stubb's BBQ is reopening its amphitheater to the public for concerts starting with a series of five sold-out Black Pumas shows, each with different openers, from May 26-30. It may be too late to catch Black Pumas this time around but Stubb's already has a host of other shows scheduled up through December. You can catch Surfaces, a College Station-based jazz-pop-hip-hop and vocals heavy duo known best for their song "Sunday Best," on Stubb's Stage on June 25 while tickets go on sale this Friday.
Next at Stubb's is electronic duo Louis the Child on July 28 and 29 on their "Euphoria Tour," followed by Umphrey's McGee on Sept. 9.
Likewise, Mohawk Austin has remained closed for more than a year since the onset of COVID-19, even tweeting "Thanks bro but we ain't gonna do it till it's safe," in response to Gov. Greg Abbott lifting all safety restrictions back in March. Starting May 27, Mohawk is officially back with Heartless Bastards and opener The Tender Things.
From there, Mohawk has an exciting lineup—Jukebox the Ghost will play on Sept. 10, Bully and opener Lightning Bug on Sept. 17, Big Freedia and Too Many Zooz on Oct. 4 and Beach Bunny on Dec. 14, with several talented artists in-between. Keep checking back though, Mohawk will continue to add shows and is currently planning on operating at 50%.
Frank Erwin Center
Though it is making a later comeback than Stubb's or Mohawk, the Frank Erwin Center will make a huge return on Aug. 14 featuring Tame Impala. If you missed their highly popular set at Austin City Limits Festival in 2019 or you want to relive it, this is the chance to do so. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to see the stage, though you will still be watching with around 16,000 other spectators. Michael Bublé will have you swooning when he comes to perform on Sept. 20 and Chris Stapleton is taking his "All American Road Show" live on Nov. 4.
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre
Holding some socially distanced concerts earlier this year, the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre isn't stopping there with rap artist Ginger Billy playing two sets on May 7. Nutty Brown has a star-studded lineup ahead: Austin-based Bob Schneider on May 8 and other Austin favorite Shinyribs will grace the stage May 29. A little further down the line, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will take over on Aug. 21 followed by Styx on Oct. 23.
Texas Performing Arts Center
If you prefer a little bit more visual appeal to go with your music, the Texas Performing Arts Center is reopening in-person after consistent online events. First up is Cody Ko and Noel Miller, a multi-hyphenated YouTuber-podcaster-comedian duo, who will perform their "Tiny Meat Gang – Global Domination," on July 31. Of course you can't miss The Beach Boys, coming to the theater on Oct. 24, or a two-week long production of Hamilton from Dec. 7-19. For all the young ones that have missed going out in-person, "Disney Princess—The Concert" is coming to the Texas Performing Arts Center on Feb. 6, 2022, performing timeless gems like "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast and featuring all their other favorite princesses. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Remember to jump on those tickets–Austinites have been missing their live music!
- 11 ways to get your Austin live music fix online - austonia ›
- Austin City Limits is holding in-person festival in 2021 - austonia ›
- Austin live music venue Mohawk announces May reopening - austonia ›
- Some Austin live music venues reopen to smaller crowds - austonia ›
We asked you what you wanted and you told us. More newsletter!
Austonia launched its new and improved newsletter today. You can expect:
- 100% Austin news, info and entertainment
- Sent straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning
- In 5 minutes or less, you're fully informed and ready for a great day
Sign up here:
Austin is on a rollercoaster that only goes up, according to the new U.S. Census Bureau data that says the city has been the fastest-growing large metropolitan area in the U.S. for a full 10 years.
The data, which was released on Tuesday, said the population between the five counties in the Austin metro area—Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell—increased by 3% since 2019 and 34% since 2010.
Austin still isn't the largest metro area but it does have the fastest population growth compared to other U.S. metro areas with over a million people. In the past decade, the metro population has gone from around 1.7 million to 2.3 million people.
The huge increase in Travis County alone is enough to bring the city closer to the leagues of other big cities, jumping above San Francisco and San Jose, California and Jacksonville, Florida in the ranks of most populous.
An increase of more than half a million people in the metro area puts it as the 29th largest, an increase of one spot from last year.
However, in terms of just population growth compared to last July, Austin was beaten by a few other Texas cities: Dallas ranked first in the U.S. with an increase of 119,748 and Houston took third, gaining 91,078. Austin ranked fourth with a growth spurt of 67,197, averaging out to 184 new people per day including natural increase, or the difference caused by births and deaths.
Overall, Texas gained the most residents out of all other U.S. states.
With companies like Tesla, which has promised to hire 10,000 people at the new Gigafactory, Oracle, Samsung and Google putting down roots in Austin and Texas tax breaks and lack of personal income tax, it's no surprise companies and people are flocking to the Lone Star State.
- Migration insights of Austin, who is moving to the city and who is ... ›
- Political organization reaches an all-time high in Austin's Asian ... ›
- Texas will gain two congressional seats after 2020 census - austonia ›