The Zilker Holiday Tree will adorn the park yet again this holiday season near the site of this year's first drive-thru Trail of Lights.
The tree will be installed on Oct. 23 but won't be lit until Nov. 29 at 6 p.m., during the first-ever virtual lighting ceremony for its 54th anniversary. Additionally, Zilker Park closures will begin Oct. 30 to make room for the 2020 Trail of Lights holiday event.
While the Trail of Lights will be held in a drive-thru capacity, the City of Austin has yet to announce whether or not the Zilker Holiday Tree will be available for in-person viewing. A decision should be decided in the coming months after assessing the state of the pandemic.
The installation of the tree will transform the Zilker moontower, one of 15 remaining moontowers in Austin, with 39 strings of lights. The tree is the largest man-made tree on display and stands 155 feet tall, encompassing the moontower. This year, the tree will use all LED bulbs, which last longer and consume less electricity.
The Zilker Holiday Tree will be on display from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 from 6 p.m. to midnight every night. The lighting ceremony will be streamed on ATXN Channel 6 and on social media channels of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, City of Austin and Austin Energy.
And while the Trail of Lights opens Nov. 28 through Jan. 3 as a drive thru, the impact to Zilker Park is similar to past years.
Starting Oct. 30, the city will close Lou Neff Road—the road that circles the park grounds where the Trail of Lights and Austin City Limits Music Festival occurs. The 45-acre off-leash Great Lawn will remain open, however, through Nov. 8, according to a map provided by the city. Alternative parking sites have been identified for those still hoping to use the green space.
Starting Nov. 9, roughly half of the Great Lawn portion of Zilker Park will close to allow Trail of Lights event organizers to start setting up. Additionally, Rollingwood Drive just west of MoPac will restrict traffic to only allow neighborhood residents each evening from 5-11 p.m. Stratford Drive near Lady Bird Lake will also close to all through traffic each night starting Nov. 9.
The map outlines the complicated routes motorists must take to access the event, showing option for both northbound and southbound motorists on MoPac. Essentially, attendees are directed down Lake Austin Boulevard and past Red Bud Isle before circling back toward Zilker Park.
The partial park closure runs through Jan. 10, allowing event organizers almost a week to deconstruct the Winter Wonderland, including all 2 million lights, 90 lighted holiday trees and 70-plus other holiday displays. That means Zilker Park will have limited access for little more than two months.
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President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law on Tuesday, a move that the White House says will unlock hundreds of billions more in semiconductor investment across the country.
Part of that investment could make waves in Central Texas, where semiconductor companies have laid the groundwork for more plants and jobs as a global shortage of semiconductors continues.
For example, Samsung already had a $17 billion semiconductor factory in Taylor on the way. Then in July, documents filed with the state showed that the tech giant is considering 11 chipmaking facilities in the Austin area that it’d build over the next two decades. The proposed $192.1 billion investment would bring more than 10,000 jobs.
\u201cThe CHIPS Act will supercharge our efforts to make semiconductors here in America. It will make cars, appliances, and computers cheaper and lower the costs of everyday goods. And, it will create high-paying manufacturing jobs across the country.\u201d— Joe Biden (@Joe Biden) 1659828240
Micron Technology is another giant that could make a multi-billion regional investment.
At the start of the year, Micron Technology was reportedly considering a new plant in neighboring Caldwell and Williamson counties, though California, North Carolina and Arizona were also being reviewed as potential sites for the plant.
On Tuesday, Micron announced plans to invest $40 billion between now and 2030 for chip manufacturing in the U.S.
In a public video statement, CEO Sanjay Mehrotra noted how semiconductors are essential to many tools that are a part of everyday life such as computers, smartphones and cars.
“Today is a proud moment for the global Micron team and a strong step forward for American high tech manufacturing leadership,” Mehrotra said. The company said specific plans for the investment will be made available in the coming weeks.
\u201cToday, we announced plans to invest $40 billion in the U.S. through the end of the decade to build leading-edge memory #manufacturing. Our investment will create 40k American jobs and strengthen U.S. supply chains. Watch this space! #jobs #innovation https://t.co/WPePuDVJs6\u201d— Micron Technology (@Micron Technology) 1660050842
Recently, the city has made efforts to train Austin residents for the kind of roles companies like Micron and Samsung would try to fill. A couple of months ago, the city announced a “hire local” plan with Workforce Solutions to help people in fields like manufacturing and information technology get training to move up in their careers.
The bipartisan bill includes $52 billion in semiconductor subsidies. Nationwide, these incentives could create thousands of jobs and multiple fabs, the Semiconductor Industry Association estimates. Some of that could happen in the Austin area from companies looking to expand.
NXP Semiconductors is weighing a $2.6 billion expansion and Infineon Technologies is looking at a $700 million expansion. Respectively, those two could add 800 and 100 jobs.
Central Texas has a reputation as a major hub for semiconductors, and the competition with other areas could ramp up in the coming years as others like Qualcomm and Intel consider new facilities. Dallas-based Texas Instruments also celebrated the passing of the CHIPS Act.
“TI has an exciting manufacturing investment roadmap and these provisions will be meaningful to the development of our 300-mm water fabs in Texas and Utah,” the company said in a Tuesday Twitter post.
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It’s slowly but surely becoming easier to buy a house in Austin.
According to the Austin Board of Realtors, the median house price in the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area is $537,475 as of July. Take a look at what that price range can get you.
This two-story brick home is the biggest on the list, with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms across 2,156 square feet in Round Rock. Characterized by its sky-high ceilings, large windows and newly updated fixtures, the home has a spacious backyard with mature trees, a wooden deck, a lounge area and close proximity to a nearby greenbelt.
This listing is held by Drew Griffin with Compass.
This recently updated three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was built in 1983 but fits in perfectly with the design standards of today. On top of newly-updated floors, roof and windows, this home comes complete with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, a spacious open floor plan and plenty of natural light. The biggest gem of this house is its vaulted and covered back patio, which gives way to a large backyard on a corner lot. At 1,280 square feet, the home is just a few minutes away from The Domain and Q2 Stadium.
This listing is held by Jennifer Buterick and Nicole Marburger with Compass.
Another retro find, this 2,098-square foot home has character to go around and is looking for a caretaker who will love it as much as the last. With four bedrooms and two bathrooms, the house has plenty of room for a home office and is colorfully painted throughout, including bright blue kitchen cabinets. On a third of an acre, this home comes with 12 fruiting trees in the backyard, solar panels, rain-catching barrels and a converted garage with living space.
This listing is held by Niki Duncan with Compass.
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom South Austin home has a wide-open floor plan and sparkling white interiors. The vaulted ceiling in the living room gives height to the room while the fireplace will keep you warm. An airy master suite comes with double pedestal sinks and two walk-in closets, so you don’t have to worry about sharing space with your partner. Enjoy the Texas weather with a private yard, screened-in porch, and fire pit.
This listing is held by Michelle Hendrix and Khani Zulu with Compass.
A retro-on-the-outside, single-story home was built in 1973 but has been given a full modern update on the inside. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,676-square foot home is situated on a half acre of land, complete with an above-ground pool and covered porch to keep you shady during the oppressive heat. Inside, you’ll walk directly into an open living and dining area, which features a floor-to-ceiling tiled fireplace, that leads to the breakfast nook, and kitchen with mosaic-tiled backsplash and a built-in wine rack.
This listing is held by Derek Peterson with Compass.