As the rain poured on a June day in 2018, the headlights of a brand new Tesla Model 3 pierced through the blurry sky. As Kristy Anderson drove it off the North Austin showroom lot, she realized her new purchase would be different than any car she had owned before. After joining the waitlist 15 months earlier, she finally had her Tesla, and it was worth the wait.
"The car is so unique. It just continues to improve with each software update," she said.
Kristy Anderson's Tesla on her family's first road trip in the car.(Kristy Anderson)
As construction of the Tesla Gigafactory begins, owners of the car in Austin are bonding over what they see as the future of automobiles. Like many Tesla owners, Anderson, a Central Austin resident, doesn't consider herself a "car person," but she was one of the city's early adopters.
There's a social element to being on the cutting edge of a new technology, Anderson said.
"You drive around, and when you see another Tesla, you do a little wave," she added.
The Tesla Owners of Austin club has been at the forefront of building a community around the car company and now boasts around 475 members. It also has a popular following on Twitter, with over 2,200 followers from across the country, and recently received the attention of Elon Musk.
The Gigafactory announcement only served to increase the group's excitement.
The $1.1 billion factory in southeast Travis County promises to provide 5,000 well-paying jobs. The site will build the Tesla Cybertruck pickup and the Model Y SUV, as well as battery cells and plans to open by the end of 2021.
"I remember just screaming when I heard the announcement," said Gail Afar, a spokesperson for Tesla Owners of Austin.
Gail Afar, a spokesperson for the Tesla Owners of Austin group, sits with her Tesla.
While the pandemic has impacted the group's operations, its leaders have started to host outdoor meet-ups again. The gatherings have grown from backyard get-togethers in the club's infancy to its now nearly 100-person membership.
Emese Szorenyi, an owners' club member and advertising executive at Saatchi and Saatchi, decided she was ready to leave New York and took her Model 3 on a trip with no set end destination. When she stopped in Austin in April, her car helped her feel at home.
"Everyone is so nice and welcoming," she said of the Tesla community in Austin.
Emese Szorenyi and her Tesla with a New York license plate.
Szorenyi added that the car serves as an ice breaker when she stops at a charging station, giving her an immediate connection to strangers.
Tesla has seen enormous growth as a company in recent years. In 2019 it delivered 367,500 cars, up 50% compared to the year prior.
Mary Lauderdale, a retired Austinite and owner of a Model 3, shares that sense of enthusiasm.
As someone who has lived in Austin her whole life, she says the car represents many of the qualities that embody the city.
"Austin is pretty forward-thinking. People want to take advantage of the car's technological and environmental benefits," Lauderdale said, adding "the car keeps teaching me."
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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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