Native and adopted Austinites (those of us who have a few decades here under our belts) like to complain about how newcomers have changed the city, added to traffic woes, ratcheted up the cost of living and brought in shiny hotels and shopping centers.
But the less crabby among us realize that while people can bring problems, they can also bring progress: Good paying jobs, tax money to build cool things, a major league soccer team.
So if you're out there thinking about moving to Austin—I mean, as apparently everyone is—let us give you some insights on your new soon-to-be hometown.
1. We're not just for weird people anymoreDreaming about becoming an Austinite? Here are 8 Things You'll Love About Us.(Karen Brooks Harper/Austonia)
Part of Austin's draw is its unique bars, restaurants and small businesses like Wild About Music, the Continental Club and the Austin Motel. But Austin has grown long past weird, bringing in hip national restaurant chains and high-end shopping centers, along with sprawling mixed-use developments in the suburbs that cater to the tastes of newcomers and those used to living in more mainstream environments. Plenty for the Keep Austin Weird crowd, and more than enough for everyone else.
2. We are a town of foodies
A server at Uchi on South Lamar delivers food to curbside customers.
(Karen Brooks Harper/Austonia)
Austinites tend to be fit, healthy people, but we do love our food. Our chefs are international celebrities, and our choices range from homegrown Turkish wraps to world-famous sushi to award-winning pizza. During the pandemic, Austin lost some iconic places, but other long-time establishments are pivoting, digging in and staying afloat. Fonda San Miguel is still serving some of the city's favorite interior Mexican food for take-out and dine in, and promises a return of its famous Sunday Hacienda Brunch soon. Vespaio, one of the city's original South Congress eateries, is open for Italian dine-in and take-out. Mother's Cafe, serving vegan and vegetarian fare in Hyde Park since 1980, is also open for take-out and delivery.
3. We're a great city for bikes
(The City of Austin)
We are a bike-friendly city and we are getting more so every year. Over the years, the city has reduced auto lanes to make way for bike lanes, it has created bike-forward intersections to help traffic and cyclists flow together, and it has recently completed phase two of the Walnut Creek Trail System, which will eventually connect north Austin to downtown via 20 miles of paved, peaceful, zero-traffic bike trails. So far, more than half the miles have been built and are open. The town is peppered with bike shops big and small and is headquarters for Lance Armstrong's Mellow Johnny's bike shop, training center and cafe downtown. All that is in addition to the Thursday Night Social Ride (currently on pause until the pandemic passes) that has drawn hundreds of cyclists of all levels to the streets of Austin every week for more than a decade.
4. We have unique neighborhoods to fit your personalityBillion dollar company Rex Teams to join Austin's tech hub(Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock)
Whether your taste and means suit a penthouse in a shiny downtown high-rise or a room in a hostel over a Sixth Street bar, a funky duplex near the university or a comfy retirement community in the suburbs, there's a neighborhood to fit your profile. For instance: Young, hip, trendy and looking to avoid downtown? The East Side is for you. Old-school with some cash and a hankering for the good ol' days? There's a home in South Austin with your name on it. Small school districts, decent shopping, affordable housing and still close enough to see the skyline? Head north. And if you want to be a neighbor to the stars, head out to moneyed homes of Lake Austin and move in next to Sandra Bullock or Joe Rogan.
5. We have a love affair with high techHere it comes: Elon Musk says 'stunning' $1.1 billion Tesla Gigafactory will be built in Austin area(Mike Mareen/Adobe)
They don't call us Silicon Hills for nothing. Nicknamed for its place in the Hill Country and its status as the next Silicon Valley, Austin is one of the most attractive places for the world's biggest tech companies, and they keep on coming. Even as Austinites shake off the vestiges of PTSD in the wake of the devastating tech bust of the early 2000s, the city still loves its tech, welcoming wave after wave of industry barons who want to relocate, build and live here. The most recent, of course, is Elon Musk, whose Tesla factory in Southeast Austin will be home to the new Cybertruck.
6. We offer plenty of star-gazingMatthew McConaughey offers himself and UT football to raise funds for coronavirus recovery
In case you thought Beverly Hills or NYC had the corner on celebrity sightings, you should know Austin is absolutely crawling with famous people. Pretty much year-round—but particularly during our festivals—you really can't swing a stick without seeing Meg Ryan hanging out with Ben Harper at Amy's Ice Cream or Doug Benson wandering around Sixth Street or Bill Murray crashing house parties or Anthony Michael Hall behaving badly in a hotel swimming pool. Celebrities swing in and out of this town in part because Austinites are so used to seeing them that they tend to get left alone to enjoy their lives. But we also have some who actually eschew the million-dollar mansions in the Hollywood Hills and instead buy half-million bungalows in the city's hip neighborhoods or on the shores of Lake Austin. Variety Magazine recently rounded up the big ones, but let us highlight a few: Elijah Wood, Matthew McConaughey, Dan Rather, and most recently, Joe Rogan.
7. We're no place for introvertsTravis County bans outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people, with exceptions (ACL Radio via city of Austin)
Get used to crowds—at least, when they're legal again. Right now, the festivals are off due to COVID-19. But when they're on, IT. IS. ON. From the gigantic South by Southwest to the dual-weekend Austin City Limits show, the iconic Eeyore's Birthday (and attendant drum circle), the Kite Festival on the shores of Lady Bird Lake and the Blues on the Green free concerts in Zilker Park, not a month goes by without some kind of festival or event for Austinites to come together and enjoy their beautiful city with their neighbors. To illustrate the pervasiveness of the festival culture in Austin: When the coronavirus made large gatherings impossible, more than 100 festivals had to be canceled.
8. We Are still the Live Music Capital of the World—even without live music
Local singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore plays live on Facebook.
Home to an estimated 8,000 musicians and performers, the Live Music Capital of the World feels quieter with all of its nightclubs and venues shut down. But the city is running financial assistance programs to keep its musicians in town and afloat, and has become part of a national pilot program for re-opening its venues safely in the face of the pandemic, which has kept them largely shuttered for six months. Meanwhile, musicians—creative innovators that they are—have taken their shows online for a robust virtual music scene that delivers us a satisfying piece of Austin's musical soul while we wait for the stage lights to come back on.
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Austin’s Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Gray has apologized after vandals broke into a city-owned hotel in the process of being converted into a homeless hotel.
The break-in was discovered on May 5 at the northwest Candlewood Suites, 10811 Pecan Park Blvd., which had been sitting vacant and unrenovated with no security protocol at the time. The incident came to light after Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly, who represents the area, tweeted photos of the damage to the interior.
What she said about the damages:
- Damage spans all three floors of the building and is in nearly every room.
- The entire hotel was stripped of copper.
- Washers, dryers, air conditioners and electrical wiring was destroyed.
- Kelly said she learned of people sleeping at the hotel without permission.
Here are the photos of the inside of the Candlewood Suites that I shared during my press conference at 3pm today.
I want to encourage anyone with information regarding this incident to call Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/2bVBoA6Vba
— Mackenzie Kelly (@mkelly007) May 12, 2022
A memo from the city said security had yet to be initiated due to a delay in processing the request.
The memo also said it introduced security protocols after the incident, which will now be on patrol “day and night.”
“The intent had been to have security on site previous to this event,” Gray said. “It had been requested, and there was a delay in the request, so it had not been initiated. We acknowledge that as a failure and apologize.”
The city bought the hotel—now called Pecan Gardens—in August 2021 for $9.5 million with plans to convert it into 80 supportive housing units as part of the Housing-Focused Encampment Assistance Link initiative.
The city’s Homeless Strategy Division expects occupants—individuals exiting long-term homelessness—to move in later this year or early next year.
On Thursday, City Council is poised to approve a contract with Family Eldercare, allowing them to begin renovations.
Additionally, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell shared photos of an adjoining homeless encampment nearby to the hotel.
He issued the following statement: “I am deeply disappointed that once again the city of Austin has made decisions regarding their property in Williamson County without involving Williamson County leadership in coming up with solutions. I have heard from our residents that Austin’s property has brought crime to their neighborhood. They sent me pictures of what is going on in their neighborhood. The city of Austin made their problem Williamson County’s problem, so I promise our residents that I will work to find a solution. Our residents deserve to not live in fear.”
Austin's home sales were on the decline for the second month in a row as the metro's median home price reached an all-time record of $550,000 in April, according to the Austin Board of Realtors' April report.
While home sales were down 6.2% year-over-year, the five-county metro still saw the second-highest number of sales on record.
Austin was its year-over-year median home price raise 19%, while sales were down 6% in April 2022. (Austin Board of Realtors)
Here's a look at the numbers behind the month's housing report:
- The metro saw 3,280 home sales, 216 short of a record-breaking April 2021
- The median home price grew 19.6% year-over-year to $550,0000
- Active listings jumped 52.5%, causing inventory to rise from 0.3 months to 0.8 months
- The city of Austin has a new all-time median home price record of $640,000
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