Austin's average rent jumped by 26% from January 2021-to 2022, with the highest increase in the state of Texas, according to a Zumper National Rent report.
The city had the 7th highest jump in rent prices among the 101 U.S. cities studied. With a median price of $1,550 for a 1-bedroom rental, Austin jumped up three spots from a year prior coming in 26th on the list—the highest of all Texas cities studied.
Austin's median one-bedroom rent increased more than any other Texas city from January 2020-21. (Zumper)
Chart-toppers like New York City still have more than double the average Austin rent ($3,260). But for many traditional high-dollar areas, that gap is narrowing: rent in San Francisco, the Silicon Valley giant with the second-highest rental prices on the list, rose by 6.3% year-over-year, while all nine California cities with higher rent that Austin saw a change of 15% or less.
As companies and priced-out migrants reportedly flee to less-expensive markets, new growth hotspots in states like Florida and Arizona skyrocketed, including Miami (25.8%), Orlando (27.6%) Tampa (26.2%), Scottsdale, AZ (27.6%) and Gilbert (20.9%). Cities dubbed as mini Silicon Valleys, including Austin, grew as well: Boston's 1-bedroom rent leaped by 26.5% to third on the list, while Boise, Idaho rose by 24.3% and Las Vegas leaped up nine slots with a 27.5% increase in two-bedroom rent.
No longer a cheap city in the historical cheap state of Texas, Austin rent remains far from New York standards but is still nearly triple cities like Wichita, Kansas, which finished out the list with an average rent of $660. Increases in rent have come hand-in-hand with an influx of newcomers—Austin is one of America's top 20 "boomtowns", according to frequent vistor and billionaire Elon Musk and a December 2021 New York Times report.
And while a pandemic rent surge has been seen nationwide, some have noticed that more traditionally affordable cities like Austin have seen increases much more quickly. University of Texas associate economics professor Peter Bergman found that more than half of low-income Austin residents worry about getting evicted in the next year as rent increases coincide with inflation and income losses for many.
2. While we're incredibly excited about the partnership and we've all pushed incredibly hard to make it happen, what's happening to low-income renters is extremely bleak. First, inflation: in the prior year or so, rental prices have gone up more steeply in more affordable cities. pic.twitter.com/QyZEPotL73
— Peter Bergman (@peterbergman_) December 23, 2021
Fueled by new tech HQs, a nationwide pandemic surge in rent and a booming job market, Austin rent will likely continue to rise, especially as satellite cities like Cedar Park, Kyle and Buda continue to grow alongside the city.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.