Two virtual community meetings scheduled Monday and Thursday about the future of Hancock Golf Course have been canceled because too many people signed up to attend.
The city-led meetings were originally scheduled to allow nearby Austin residents the chance to share their desired operational goals for Hancock Golf Course, located in Central Austin about a mile north of The University of Texas campus.
"It's a crown jewel of open space in Austin," said Hugh Bender, president of Hancock Neighborhood Association. "Especially in Central Austin with Waterloo Park under renovations."
But at least 185 people—as of Monday morning—had signed up to attend both meetings, which originally started off as phone calls but were later turned into Zoom meetings, according to Bender. The city ultimately chose to cancel the meetings by early Monday afternoon because "the large group sizes would significantly limit dialogue opportunities for attendees in the online format."
"[The city of Austin Parks and Recreation Department] will be adding additional options for participation, focusing on small group meetings," the city statement read. "[The city] will reach out to neighborhood and community groups to schedule online meetings regarding the course operation proposal."
The golf course has been reportedly losing the city $115,000 per year from the general fund, and the city is considering enlisting a private operator to offset the cost of the nine-hole facility. That is one of three options for Hancock Golf Course recommended in a 2019 report commissioned by the city:
- Passive park: stop golf operations and convert to open space
- Modify the space: Invest $1.2M-$1.6M to transform course into city-operated golf learning center
- Private contractor: Enter into public-private partnership with private group to run and improve golf course
"Due to the initial costs of developing and maintaining a passive park or renovating the course, [the city] is moving forward with the third suggestion," the city website states.
The Hancock Neighborhood neighborhood Association hosted city parks officials back in February to initially discuss the proposals.
"[The city parks department] at that meeting got an eye-opener that people like it the way it is," Bender said. "And then a movement grew from that meeting to have open space—just convert it. It doesn't have to have soccer fields or anything."
The open space proposal has continued to gain support from neighborhood residents, Bender said. Such an idea may be gaining momentum based on the city's presentation it intended to deliver this week. The slideshow suggests a long-term "hybrid model" of golf and parks elements at Hancock Golf Course.
"Even with golf, passive park space is possible," the presentation states.
The community members have used the golf course during COVID-19 quarantine measures as a safe community meeting spot. Residents will have a chance to provide their feedback to the city at a series of yet-to-be-scheduled community group meetings. There will also be a new survey as part of the public feedback process, according to the city.
The smaller meetings may ultimately prove more beneficial in providing that feedback than the virtual meetings scheduled this week, Bender said.
"Given the immense interest, it's probably good just to circle the wagons and see if there's a better way," he said.
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The Texas French Bread Bakery, located on 2900 Rio Grande Street, has been completely destroyed after a fire erupted on Monday night.
The Austin Fire Department responded to the fire just before 11 p.m., where they arrived to see flames coming from the roof of the bakery. Firefighters fought the fire for about an hour before the roof collapsed.
While no one was injured in the fire, firefighters say the historic building was completely totaled.
Texas French Bread just went up in flames pic.twitter.com/agXqKN3c00
— Jordan (@AimIessFriend) January 25, 2022
AFD determined that the fire was accidental and caused by mechanical failure. AFD said the damages amounted to $1.6 million total: $1.1 million in structural damage and $500,000 in damage to the contents of the bakery.
This year, Texas French Bread will celebrate 40 years of business. Before the bakery occupied the building, it was the Rome Inn, a music venue that hosted 1970s artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Austin's first major league team is ready to extend its reach with a new collaborative sports complex The Pitch, an Austin FC destination packed with local food, beverages and Verde fervor is set to open in Northeast Austin in February.
The Pitch, a collaboration between Austin FC and Karlin Real Estate, among other entities, will be located in the 50-acre Parmer Pond District, which already hosts the club's practice facility St. David's Performance Center.
Dubbed a "true destination" for both soccer fans and the community, The Pitch will consist of multilevel shipping containers designed by Mark Odom Studio that will carve out into a 1,200-seat stadium complete with a soccer pitch made of turf, food and beverage options and a five-acre "Parmer Pond" featuring jogging trails.
Made from multilevel shipping containers, The Pitch will include food and a 1,200-seat soccer pitch made from artificial turf. (The Pitch)
“The launch of Karlin’s new food and entertainment experience will greatly enhance the Parmer development while perfectly complimenting St. David’s Performance Center,” Austin FC founder Anthony Precourt said. "The Pitch... will offer a strong variety of food options and gathering spaces for guests who will utilize St. David’s Performance Center and Parmer Field for a variety of events.”
The Pitch project lead Dave Greeley, who helped come up with the concept, is a former president of Austin FC parent company, Two Oak Ventures.
“The vision behind The Pitch at the Parmer Pond District is to be a first-of-its-kind sports, dining and entertainment destination,” said Dave Greeley, The Pitch project lead and Team Orbis president. “This will be an unmatched experience for Parmer Austin tenants, Austin FC and club supporters, and the community."
With its proximity to the practice center, the venture hopes to contribute to the growing "soccer city" of Austin during Austin FC matches and youth games with the Austin FC Academy hosted at the St. David's Performance Center.
The Pitch hopes to converge both community and club interests with Austin FC. (The Pitch)
In addition to the soccer pitch, stadium and pond, The Pitch will provide a foody experience made by the creative team behind Austin staples like Fareground and Easy Tiger. The complex will offer local bites including:
- Ranger Burger, which offers beers and burgers made from highly-coveted Wagyu beef direct from Ranger Cattle in East Austin
- Ga Roti, which merges flavors from Northern Vietnam with the culinary techniques of France to create a unique rotisserie chicken joint
- Taco Flats, a local taco chain serving Mexico City-style tacos, micheladas and more
- Sand Bar, which fulfills its namesake with beauty cocktails, local beers and a sand volleyball court
- Coffee Club, a coffee shop and bakery
- Corner Kick Bar, the soccer-focused main bar of The Pitch complete with "tunes, TVs and (a) beer garden"
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