In scenes that look uncannily similar to the pandemic, the 1997 Hotel San José saw Austinites upon Austinites look Liz Lambert in the eye through a plexiglass screen and ask for a room for the night.
Lambert's newest documentary, "Through the Plexi-Glass: the Last Days of the San José," serves as a moving reprisal of her original, "Last Days of the San José." The documentary debuted at SXSW and tells the untold story of the San José, gentrification and how it led to her eventually leaving Bunkhouse Group, the hospitality company she created.
In the beginning, the film shows a peek back in time to South Congress in the late 1990s.
A lawyer who had just returned home to Austin from Manhattan, Lambert loved spending time on South Congress. She frequented the Continental Club, a longtime Austin staple, which lived across from the Hotel San José. While it looked decrepit, Lambert would soon discover that the hotel was "teeming with life."
The hotel had just been listed in China when Lambert approached asking to buy it. They said yes, and after buying the hotel, the previous owners left town and were never to be seen again.
Lambert didn't buy a traditional hotel. The Hotel San José was low-income housing, and she continued to run it, as-is, for more than three years while she raised capital to renovate.
Over the course of those three years, Lambert saw unimaginable things in that "red-light district," met a hotel full of characters and befriended many of them.
Lambert finally got a loan to renovate the hotel a few years later and closed. Ever since, South Congress has not been the same. At the end of the film, Lambert took responsibility for the spark that started gentrification on South Congress.
"That's the thing about change: You're losing something to create something new," Lambert said in the film.
Lambert said she sold the majority of Bunkhouse to Standard Hotels in 2017. She was fired from Bunkhouse Group because she and the company disagreed on "how to best grow the company."
"Why does every business in America see growth as the path to winning? I fought against it for, I guess, a couple of years," Lambert said. "I really hoped the specialness of what we had grown at Bunkhouse and at the San José would prevail."
In the film, overlaid with beautiful b-roll of the hotels she helped create, Lambert said it isn't lost on her that the gentrification sparked by the hotel's renovation was brought to bear on her.
"You're kidding yourself to think things aren't changing," Lambert said. "No matter what happens to the San José, it's always where I came from. Things aren't forever. Nothing gold can stay, right?"
If you were there to witness South Congress in the '90s, this will bring you back to old Austin. If you weren't, the film will show you a side of Austin that is gone forever.
- Hotel Van Zandt Presents: Twenty Twenty Done - austonia ›
- Dave Chappelle filmed in mask altercation at Austin hotel - austonia ›
- Austinites retell the history of South Congress Avenue - austonia ›
- Two luxury Austin hotels listed on Conde Nast Travelers list - austonia ›
- Carpenter Hall acquired by Austin's Bunkhouse group - austonia ›
- Hyatt opens joint hotels in downtown - austonia ›
- 7 memorable places to grab a bite during SXSW 2022 - austonia ›
Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.
The company filed with the city of Austin this week to expand its headquarters with a new 500,000-square-foot building. The permit application notes “GA 2 and 3 expansion,” which indicates the company will make two general assembly lines in the building.
More details about the plans for the building are unclear. The gigafactory has been focused on Model Y production since it opened in April, but the company is also aiming for Cybertruck production to kick off in mid-2023.
While there is room for expansion on the 3.3 square miles of land Tesla has, this move comes after CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments about the state of the economy and its impact on Tesla.
In a May interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Musk said the gigafactories in Berlin and Austin are “gigantic money furnaces” and said Giga Texas had manufactured only a small number of cars.
And in June, Musk sent a company wide email saying Tesla will be reducing salaried headcount by 10%, then later tweeted salaried headcount should be fairly flat.
- Grand opening of Giga Texas faces push back from the community ... ›
- Giga Texas may start production of Model Y's this week - austonia ›
- Tesla hosts Cyber Rodeo grand opening party for Giga Texas ... ›
- Musk: Recently opened Giga Texas is a gigantic money furnace ... ›
- Elon Musk is spotted driving a Cybertruck through Giga Texas ... ›
- PHOTOS: Peek inside the Tesla Gigafactory producing Model Ys in ... ›
- Cyber Rodeo: what we know about the Giga Texas opening party ... ›
- Excitement over Giga Texas grand opening continues at Tesla Con ›
- Tesla's mileage range on new Model Y lowers - austonia ›
You’ll have to leave city limits if you’re looking for a proper ranch property like 417 Acres Shipp Lake Ranch, aptly named for its acreage. The property comes built out with three farmhouses, one of which has bedrooms and two bathrooms and two of which have two bedrooms and one bathroom. The nearly untouched property, which surrounds the 100-plus-acre Shipp Lake, has remained in the same family since the early 1900s and gives you picturesque views for the making of a dream home. In fact, the previous owners ran a water ski camp on the property.
Sitting waterside on Lake Austin, this home gives you the unique opportunity to own a piece of the lush Hill Country with views of Mount Bonnell. The 2,750-square foot, three-bedroom, four-bathroom house allows you to integrate indoor and outdoor life with large windows opening to an outdoor living area. The crown jewel is the .76-acre parcel of land that tapers off to your own lakeside resort, featuring an covered outdoor kitchen, fire pit, stone boat house to store your water sports supplies and veranda sitting at the mouth of the water, perfect for an entertainer.
Got dreams of becoming a real Texas rancher? 7814 Brown Cemetery Rd. is the perfect place to start with 40 rolling acres of land and its very own swimming hole. Just east of Austin in Manor, the modest-on-the-outside home clocks at 4,412 square feet with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms, but there are an additional two living structures on the property. The horseshoe-shaped pond sits in the heart of the property and comes equipped with a water slide, diving board and a fishing dock.