DRONE: Nestled out of sight on Lake Austin, a massive $90M campus funded by H-E-B's CEO barrels toward completion
Along a placid stretch on Lake Austin, tucked out of sight behind a stand of cypress trees, a massive and bustling 44-acre construction project is burgeoning in the hills near the picturesque Pennybacker Bridge northwest of downtown.
Here are designer renderings of the campus, courtesy of The Holdsworth Center.
Aerial drone images captured by Austonia this week shows a construction site in full swing, with nearly a dozen structures springing up on one of Lake Austin's last large undeveloped land tracts - the site of the The Holdsworth Center, a new $90 million nonprofit educator-training center funded by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt and set to begin operations next spring.
The site is at the bottom of a tree-packed hill dropping to the lakefront from RM 2222 near the confluence of Lake Austin and Bull Creek.
It is all but invisible to cars traveling above it on 2222 and boats cruising past the thicket of trees that conceal it onshore.
"It is one of the last large undeveloped tracts on Lake Austin and is likely the last one inside Loop 360," David Armbrust, the Austin attorney handling the zoning case, told the Austin-American Statesman in 2017, which reported the value of the land at nearly $14M.
When it's complete, the campus will include 180,000 square feet of learning and overnight space in 18 buildings, including a 300-person capacity event room and 186 rooms for overnight stays, according to the center's website.
Butt, who has pledged $100 million to the project, named it for his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth, a former school teacher and philanthropist.
Holdsworth officials said the delay from fall 2020 to spring 2021 was due in part to construction issues and in part to the coronavirus.
See land use and mobility plans on file with the city embedded in this article.
Designers Lake Flato Architects and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects included undeveloped area on more than half of the site, preserving 3,000 native trees for visitors to enjoy while they meet and relax during training events.
The Holdsworth has been training educators at various sites for three years, but the campus will serve "as a permanent home for public school educators to develop as leaders, a place they will return to time and again to grow, learn, collaborate, reflect and gather inspiration to take back to their districts.
The center will be available for third-party rentals to benefit the mission of the center.
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Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!