Why I’m Bullish on Buying South Austin Real Estate

Last Friday’s April 27th Austin Statesman had an article about the expansion of the South Park Meadows Shopping and Residential development in South Austin. The article outlined some things that I often tell buyers and investors when they ask why I like South Austin. Here are a few of the quotes. The entire article is posted below.

“I think what’s creating demand in this area is the location, close to brand-new retail, close to downtown and with amenities in that center that haven’t been provided previously, said Chris Ellis, a principal with Endeavor.”

South Austin is a much more convenient place to live and enjoy Austin that the further out northwest and northeast suburbs.

“This is a diamond in the rough to us,” said Ryan Mattox, a project manager in the land development department of Lennar’s Austin-San Antonio division. “We love that South Austin position.”

Good land on which to build homes in South Austin has become expensive and hard to find. The “position” he’s talking about is, I suspect, the combination of a great location close in, and the amenities available to that location.

Southern Travis County has been the most active market in Central Texas for housing starts for a number of years, said Eldon Rude, director of the Austin office of Metrostudy, which tracks such construction. More than 1,300 homes, condos and townhomes were started in 2006, representing nearly 8 percent of the total home starts in the region.

But the important thing to note is that the homes being built in South Austin are generally more expensive that the existing homes in the areas neighborhoods surrounding the new construction. Prices in the South Park Meadows neighborhood are estimated to range from $280,000 to $350,000, well above the average or median price range of the existing homes in that area. This helps with the appreciation of existing homes instead of hurting existing home sale as is the case with new homes being built in the outlying areas of such as Kyle, Hutto and Manor where land is still cheap and plentiful compared to South Austin.

New home prices in southern Travis County have been increasing sharply in recent years because of its proximity to Central Austin and the tight supply of lots ready to build on, Rude said. In 2005, 45 percent of home starts were priced below $200,000, Rude said. By the end of 2006, only 22 percent of starts were priced below that amount, he said.

Again, this is why we’ve been bring our appreciation-oriented buyers and investors down to South Austin. I’ve recently performed Market Analysis for several investors who bought in new subdivisions in Hutto, Monor and Round Rock several years ago (from other agents, not us) and who now wish to sell. The particular homes I priced had all, without exception, dropped in value or stayed very close to what these investors paid for the homes when purchased new. One in fact had dropped in value about $20K due to being literally in the shadow of the new SH 130 toll road. In South Austin, there isn’t a neighborhood that I know of that hasn’t appreciated more than 10% the past year. there isn’t a buyer we’ve sold to who couldn’t sell their home today for a price well above what was paid a year or two ago. This is why we like South Austin.

Southern Travis County also has the tightest market for developed lots in the area, with less than a 12-month supply compared with a 17-month supply overall as of late 2006.

Which means new home prices in South Austin will continue to rise and, in my opinion, bring the resale market along on for the ride.

The full article is below. Check out homes for sale in South Austin by clicking here.

Southpark Meadows gears up for building homes
Residences will be following retail rooftops.
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF – Friday, April 27, 2007

In a twist on the adage that retail follows rooftops, homes and apartments soon will be following scores of stores at the sprawling Southpark Meadows shopping center in South Austin.

Construction of the residential portion is about to kick off at the 1.6 million-square-foot shopping center being developed by Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group LLC at Interstate 35 and Slaughter Lane.

Lennar Homes Inc. anticipates building 383 homes in all, and Fairfield Residential LLC will build 670 apartments on land purchased from Endeavor at the 425-acre site. The shopping center, one of the biggest retail centers in the city and the first major retail complex in South Austin, is bringing even more people to an already rapidly growing area, said Chris Ellis, a principal with Endeavor.

“I think what’s creating demand in this area is the location, close to brand-new retail, close to downtown and with amenities in that center that haven’t been provided previously,” Ellis said.

Grand Prairie-based Fairfield Residential plans to start grading work in the next couple of weeks for the first of two apartment projects.

The 426 units in the initial phase are expected to be ready by March or April of 2008, said Scott Sherwood, vice president of development for Fairfield. Units in the second phase should be ready by May 2008, with final construction wrapping up on both in late 2008.

Fairfield hasn’t yet named the projects or set rents. However, the average-size unit in phase one, 879 square feet, will rent for about $990, Sherwood said; the average-size phase two unit, 926 square feet, will rent for about $1,075 a month.

Lennar’s project, the Reserve at Southpark Meadows, will be built on 80 acres that the Miami-based national home builder bought from Endeavor.

“This is a diamond in the rough to us,” said Ryan Mattox, a project manager in the land development department of Lennar’s Austin-San Antonio division. “We love that South Austin position.”

Lennar expects to start on preparations for streets, utilities and drainage for the first 121 lots in early June.

Construction on the homes would start about six months later, with the first buyers expected to move in by April or May of 2008, Mattox said.

Prices are estimated to range from $280,000 to $350,000, which is in the midrange of Lennar’s price scale. The company builds about 2,000 homes a year in Central Texas, priced from $100,000 entry-level homes to $500,000 homes on 2-acre sites.

A second phase, and possibly a third, would add about 260 homes with similar price ranges, Mattox said.

Mattox said the first phase will take about a year and a half to complete; the first homes in the second phase would be ready by late 2009.

Lennar typically builds in suburban areas, Mattox said. But Southpark Meadows, he said, affords “a rare opportunity for the company to be involved with a mixed-use project of this magnitude,” in a location closer to downtown.

“It’s kind of a happening place,” Mattox said, likening Southpark Meadows’ appeal to that of condominiums downtown, where people are moving to be near its stores, restaurants and other amenities.

Ellis said 1.2 million of the 1.6 million square feet of retail is leased, with another 400,000 square feet to go.

A 14-screen Cinemark movie theater, a Border’s Books & Music, a SuperTarget and a Waterloo Ice House will join other stores and restaurants at Southpark Meadows, now home to Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond and J.C. Penney, among others.

Ellis said he is finalizing deals with Marshalls and Bealls, and another large anchor, a sporting goods store. All three retailers are expected to open in April 2008, wrapping up the center’s second phase, Ellis said.

Southern Travis County has been the most active market in Central Texas for housing starts for a number of years, said Eldon Rude, director of the Austin office of Metrostudy, which tracks such construction.

More than 1,300 homes, condos and townhomes were started in 2006, representing nearly 8 percent of the total home starts in the region.

New home prices in southern Travis County have been increasing sharply in recent years because of its proximity to Central Austin and the tight supply of lots ready to build on, Rude said.

In 2005, 45 percent of home starts were priced below $200,000, Rude said. By the end of 2006, only 22 percent of starts were priced below that amount, he said.

Southern Travis County also has the tightest market for developed lots in the area, with less than a 12-month supply compared with a 17-month supply overall as of late 2006.

Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

heyzeus - 9 years ago

The new South Park Meadows shopping center features a Walmart Supercenter that faces a Target. Now that’s what I call amenities!

Leon Fu - 9 years ago

South Austin is hot, but I still don’t know why. It’s really nice there with lots of trees, but getting around is such a hassle. Most of the tech jobs are up north. UT/State Government jobs are also north. So are facilities like hospitals and unique cultural centers like the new Chinatown on Lamar.

It’s close to downtown, but it’ll take you just as long as living further north because the traffic is so bad. Traffic is terrible and will only get worse as most of the area is environomentally sensitive and they can’t build more roads to handle the additional people moving to the area. Up North, you have many more roads and even more options now that the new toll roads are opening.

I ride my bicycle along the frontage roads of MoPac south of Town Lake and it’s at almost at a complete standstill everyday during rush hour.

When I drive home from my job at Dell in Round Rock, I’m so glad I don’t have to go south of Town Lake. It would add another 20-30 minutes to go just a few miles south of the river. All those people living in South Austin must have a lot more patience than I for sitting in their cars every night on I35/Mopac. Of course, none of this matters if you don’t have to go to work during normal business hours or if you’re a home body and don’t go out much.


Edward - 9 years ago

I’ve lived in South Austin for 8 years. I love it. To me, it doesn’t feel as commercial/industrial as North Austin. When we bought our house in Travis Country West, we could have bought the exact same house from the same builder in a subdivision off of Parmer for about $30k less. The lot would have been about 15% larger as well. We didn’t even consider it. I think that those that have lived in South Austin stay here.

Jim Mansmith - 9 years ago

What influence do you think the developements @ Southpark Medows will have on single family rental homes, both in terms of the new houses & the appartments ? Do you agree with the article that the higher priced new houses will automatically draw the prices up on existing homes ?

Scott - 9 years ago

Ed and Leon both bring up valid points. Actually, they are both sides of the same coin.
Truth is, ALL of Austin proper is overcrowded. I live NW off Palmer, and its just as hellish.
The good thing about South Austin is you have something that approximates what people
have in mind when they move to Austin per its ambiance and uniqueness. Its a heck of a lot
easier dealing with the traffic if you are near to Zilker/Barton(the only trails worth jogging
on in the city), South Congress and its supreme funkiness, and of course 6th st/warehouse dist. North and NW Austin is completely devoid of character, AND has hellish traffic.
I frankly couuldn’t think of one unique place/thing worth doing there. Nothing but soulless
strip malls, BBQ joints, franchise restaurants, and mega apartment complexes. Try turning
on Mopac off lamar between 4-7, and tell me its any less hellish than south austin traffic.
I have the answer to all of the above.
1.) Austin needs a modern, complete, everywhere dense(not just off Mopac). Go take a
week this summer to Chicago, and see how Metra, the CTA(subway and elevated), and
a full complement of taxicabs, not to mention a huge, 16-lane interstate system that interlaces the entire city, gets 9+ million folks around everyday. Why should we have such
a time getting a paltry 1.5 million anywhere? It takes planning and money. Cities like
Chicago spend plenty(they just won the US bid for the olympics, BTW), in both time
AND money makeing that city work.
2.) Make North and NW Austin worth living in. Can’t they make that area more human
and funky? Do all the cool, unique things have to be south of 45th st? Does everything
sterile and souless have to be north of the same? The atmosphere there is what you
get when developers have free rein to overbuild without the proper green spaces,
public spaces, libraries, recreation and a million other things that make life worth living.
Best of all, you wouldn’t have a procession of cars going north on mopac and industrial
hwy(they need a much sweeter name than that, BTW. Can’t they rename it after a founding
father or something?). They would have plenty to do in their own backyard. There is not
one decent place for couples to stroll in all of NW and North Austin. Again, possibly the most souless place I’ve ever seen.
3.)Jack up the population density of downtown and thereabouts(3-mile radius from 6th
and congress in all directions). Make it a city in itself. On that same trip this summer to
see Chicago’s transit system, check out the south and west loop, and how they created
a community of 20,000 where once there was nothing but street folks. Convert everything
that can be converted to lofts/condos/townhouses, and tear down what can’t be and build
plenty of high rises. Build more grocery stores/gas stations/etc. so they folks don’t have
to jump on already crowded MOPAC to shop north.
4.) Establish a full-fledged planning dept. in Austin proper, rather than having the city
council bicker about every little tree planted. Revamp the entire governmental structure
in Austin as well. As situated, they are not handling the growth properly. They are set
up to deal with issues as they were in the 70’s, when this was a little, non-descript city
that had little issues to deal with. Austin is huge now, and needs the proper strong
and large govt to bring this city up to 21st century standards. This isn’t the little, funky
city people sometimes seem to think it is.
If all of the above are achieved, we will have a great, growing city on our hands. If not,
we will have a disfunctional, overcrowded, souless city, and lose the charm that brought
all these new people here in the first place.
It can be done…..so lets do it!

Scott - 9 years ago

sorry, but my first point should have said austin needs a modern day rapid transit system

Scott - 9 years ago

secon correcton..procession of cars going south on momac…need to proofread nexttime!

ARZ - 9 years ago

a light rail system works well for downtown and zelker park. I am not sure why they haven’t gotten one. Salt Lake built one using federal money because of the winter olympics. I wonder if Austin can try get one as well. Summer Olympic would be brutal here…

Scott - 9 years ago

Austin is slated for light rail 2008. but only parellel to Mopac, and just one line. They
need one parellel to Research HWY as well, along with 1 or 2 others going east-west.
Seems as if they shut out any consideration of folks east of I-35 getting around,
which is obviously patently absurd. Those folks need rapid transit more than the
already mobile folks out west.
They also need a hard core bus system that covers the entire metro area. The ‘dillo
is geared primarily for UT students. Even South Congress is shy of ‘dillo routes, which
is crazy, cause one of the reasons the traffic is hellish on south congress is the lack of the
same. We need buses running up and down the length of south congress at least 7AM
to 8PM or so.
Another need is for more taxis, and less pedicabs and horses downtown. Yes, its charming,
but we have reached a point where downtown and thereabouts is too dense for clydesdales
and pedicabs. I can’t take a horse back home to Parmer, though it might be fun(not for the poor horse, though). Try finding a real taxi downtown on week-end nights. Good luck….
Finally, we need a true loop of expressways surrounding Austin proper. Indianapolis
is almost exactly Austin’s size, and so is Columbus, Ohio, and both cities have complete
loops of non-toll freeways, with a non-bypass branch going through the heart of the city.
Again, we need a strong city government with the power to declare eminent domain,
and the vision to carry it out. Partial tollways with confusing access, and no uniform
freeway loop bypass AND heart of city bi-section creates a checkboard hodgepodge
of inane confusion.
Complete the above, and you have a city that works(see Chicago, who earned that title
by great effort and planning). Obfuscate the above, and try to avoid the reality that this is now a huge city that needs huge gov’t and planning, and you have what we are dealing with
right now

Scott - 9 years ago

She says it much better than I can…..so well put!


Scott - 9 years ago

More great stuff about the same…….in the Statesman-American no less………as you can
see I’m right on per whats going on AND needed….

However, Capital Metro representatives and the proposal’s outside supporters underscored that the line is a relatively low-cost start toward a larger, regionwide system of rail lines and expanded bus service. With the area’s population predicted to double over about 20 years, they argued, Central Texas’s traffic problems seemed headed for what the Austin American-Statesman characterized as “nightmare status”.
[Austin American-Statesman, 3 Nov. 2004]

The American-Statesman also gives some hints as the to what Capital Metro planners are envisioning for the initital service:

Capital Metro says it will use diesel-powered cars, similar in scale and look to a light rail car, with an engine and driver’s cab at each end, allowing cars to reverse direction without some sort of turnaround.

Initially, the agency would run about 14 trains a day, four or five south from Leander in the morning on 30-minute intervals, with one or two in the reverse direction, and the reverse of that approach going out from downtown Austin in the afternoon. There likely would be a couple of trains at midday, one in each direction.

The stations, by and large, would be simple affairs with a raised platform, some shelter, a ticketing machine and some seating. At busier stops, the stations could be more elaborate, and a few will have park-and-ride parking lots.

The agency also plans to have “circulator” buses waiting for the trains at its final stop near the Austin Convention Center to ferry people to the rest of downtown, the Capital complex and the University of Texas.

Leon Fu - 9 years ago

Hey Scott,

Yes, parts of North Austin’s traffic is just as bad as South Austin. But in North Austin there are viable alternates. In South Austin, you have NO alternates. If you are stuck, you are simply stuck. In North Austin, you have I35, Mopac, 183, and 183A. Going East and West is now much easier with Texas 45. That’s a viable alternative if Palmer is jammed. In North East Austin, you have Texas 130. If those are jammed, you still try local roads. Yes, I realize that traffic in North Austin is bad, but usually you have a shot at finding a route that isn’t as bad. South Austin does not have this and never will.


Steve - 9 years ago

> What influence do you think the developements @ Southpark Medows will have on single family rental homes

Hi Jim, good to hear from you. Yes I think when an area rises in general, it definately helps the existing home prices.

Hi Scott, thanks for the traffic analysis.

Leon, we have more options coming from South Austin than you may realize. From where I live in Oak Hill, I have many different ways to head north.

Thanks for all the other good comments.


Scott - 9 years ago

leon and folks,
Don’t forget that Austin is much wider north than south, and have more suburbia to contend
with, re the new toll roads. The population is much more established and spread out, re
the alternatives. South Austin, if you mean it to be south of the river, only gentrified 10 or
so years ago. Its taken time for the traffic alternatives to catch up with it. Also, south
austin has virtually no tech or gov’t jobs, and just about no office parks, so there is
no pressing need for ripping up new interstates or major blvds till relatively recently.
Round rock and N-NW Austin was already growing rapidly in the 80’s, while south congress
and much of south and southeast austin was no man’s land. It’s just a matter of a time
lack per the north and south sides. Lastly, you have the greenspaces(that make the area
infinitely more livable than the north and northwest sides, BTW), which stand in the way of any expansion or spurs off MOPAC.
I think the city has major traffic issues on both sides, and its much more than a south vs. north issue. The city is going through major growing pains, just like a gawky adolescent
kid wearing floods. Lots of catch-up everywhere.

ARZ - 9 years ago

Round Rock + N Austin is so butt ugly. If I really want to live in a bunch of concrete buildings and highways, I can go just about any other cities like DFW, LA, Houston, Danver…

Now, 620/2222 area is kinda nice. But that area is more far out then West Lake and similar neighborhoods.

Scott, SW Austin does have a look of high tech offices. Most noticeable ones are AMD, Freescale, ARM, Broadwing (now Level3) and a whole bunch of others I don’t quite remember…

Leon Fu - 9 years ago

Scott et. al.,

Yes, I do agree that there are major traffic issues everywhere, but my fear for South Austin is that they will never be able to increase road capacity. But people continue to move there and builders continue to build. I don’t know how anybody living in south/southwest Austin is going to get around in 5 to 10 years if we continue to grow at this pace. The environmental groups here will never allow a major road to be built there.

The Edwards aquifer covers much of the south and southwest areas and it will be impossible to get a major interstate type road to be built there. Because of the environmentaly senstive west side, Austin will never have an Interstate that loops around the entire city like many large cities in the US. The best we can do is the new Texas 130 tollway that loops around Austin on the east side.

Steve - 9 years ago

Hi Leon,

When SH45 is extended from the south end of mopac, there will eventually be good connectivity from IH35 to Mopac, and the other end extending to 130 in SE Austin. This will really open up Buda and it will then boom even more than it has already when commuters can take SH45 to Mopac all the way into Austin in 25 minutes.

Eventually, Hwy 290 West toward Dripping from Oak Hill and Hwy 71 West from Oak Hill through Bee Cave will be upgraded to freeways as well. There is opposition to the 1980’s design that TXDot wants to build through Oak Hill, and that’s slowing things down ads it goes through a political process. For the time being, our Oak Hill bottleneck on 290 really sucks, but it’s not too bad most of the time.

Someday 1826 will be upgraded all the way to 290 where there will be an interchange. It already connects into 45, which connects to the south end of Mopac.

The other major South Austin artirials such as Slaughter Ln. William Cannon, Stassney (all east/west) and Manchaca Rd., Brodie Ln, S. 1st Street and S. Congress (all North/South) carry quite a bit of traffic without much trouble. Of course we also have Mopac and 290 as well as IH35.

Today I was stuck in logjam traffic heading south on Mopac at 5PM. Then I heard on the radio there was an accident at Mopac/Barton Skyway. I got off Mopac on W. 1st Street, took it to Lamar, headed south on Lamar and got on Hwy 290 near Central Market at Ben White. Took about 30 minutes to get back to Oak Hill. I also could have passed Lamar and cut down S. 1st street all the way to William Cannon then across to 290 in Oak Hill. Or I could have got off at Enfield and cut through Tarry Town, come across on Red Bud Trail through Westlake, and popped out at 360/Bee Caves where I could have taken 360 to Lost Creek and cut through Barton Creek to Southwest Parkway and on across into Oak Hill. Or I could have taken Bee Caves all the way to Hwy 71 and come into Oak Hill from the west.

There are a lot of way to get around Central/South/West Austin. You just have to know all the nooks and crannies.


Scott - 9 years ago

Thanks ARZ, for the observation of the souless, mega-apartment complex, hwys going nowhere and everywhere that is north austin and north burbs. The reason it is so souless
is that it is completely lacking in anything resembling a neighborhood(s). No places for
couples to stroll on beautiful summer nights, no decent large parks for kids to have a blast
or a neighborhood pool system(Spent the better part of growing up in a wonderful neighborhood park in Chicago. For 25 cents you got a wire basket for clothes, and a great
olympic-sized pool. I couldn’t imagine not being there with buddies all day, teasing
the girls and having a blast), no libraries, no public spaces at all. I honestly cry a bit inside
when I see kids playing on the pavement in my complex. It honestly reminds me of a housing
project, in spirit. All pavement, all souless, devoid of all that is bright and livable.
I’ll be heading back to Chicago for the summer, and it will seem like heaven to see couples
strolling the beautiful lakefront, beaches for miles around with hundreds of volleyball nets,
a chain of parks hugging the entire lakefront, full of families enjoying outdoor cookouts,
kids laughing, yachts moored in the harbor bobbing up and down.
Compare that to hanging out in the parking lot of a mega-apartment complex for the summer, and tell me whats wrong with this picture of developers having virtually free
rein to build a souless, dead environment in north, NW and suburban Austin.
Really sad, most of all for the kids that grow up here.

Scott - 9 years ago

Steve, great info per the future metamorphoses of the interstate structure in the next 5 years,
and some of the governmental logjams to be dealt with. I do have a direct question for you
as well about the soulessness of north and northwest Austin, as well as the northern burbs.
Perhaps I’m missing something here, but I see no neighborhood structure whatsoever.
Are they planning on making that huge area livable as well as building more roads?
I think the livablility issue preceeds the roads, as quality of life issues are what has been driving all these new people to Austin in the first place. Why are libraries closed two days a week?
What is there an abject lack of green spaces and land east of Mopac on the north side?
Where are the neighborhood festivals? How about the public parks, pools, and great places
to hang out?
I always thought the sea of asphalt surrounding Las Vegas proper was the epitome of
builders having carte blanche to throw the bare minimum of requiste livablility in their
developments. Why doesn’t the city of Austin have mandates per public parks and
open-aired ambiant retial developments? Whose been running the show the last 10 years
out there? And I presume it will be more of the same in the future……
So, is there an answer for that?

Leon Fu - 9 years ago

Hi Steve,

If I understand you correctly, it took you 30 minutes to travel from 1st. and Mopac to the Oak Hill area. I’m looking at my map and the distance from Oak Hill area to 1st and Mopac is approx 5-7 miles (most direct route). It means you are effectively moving at less than 15 mph during rush hour. Being a former Cat 3 racer, I can ride my bicycle much faster than this. I am aware of most of those roads as I ride my bicycle on those. Roads like Red Bud Trail, Brodie Ln, are local, low capacity roads. You can not drive more than 30-40 mph on them. You can’t compare them to Mopac, I35, 183, 183A, Texas 45 or 130, or even 360(which still has traffic lights and backs up). I do agree the 290 extension and Texas 45 South will help, but I wonder if it’ll be too little to late with all the growth I am seeing. I don’t see any new infrastructure planned on the scale of 183A, Texas 45/130, and even the commuter rail line which goes north.

Going North, in 30 minutes, I can drive all the way to Cedar Park/Round Rock usually even during rush hour. Cedar Park and Round Rock are 20-25 miles away from downtown. So because of the better road infrastructure, I could live about 2-3 times further away, yet have the same commute time as living less than 10 miles away in South or West Austin.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like South/West Austin! I agree with most of the points Scott brings up that South Austin has more “soul” than N/NW Austin. In fact, I would live there too if I didn’t have to commute to work everyday, esp. the 2222/620, Lakeway/Lake Travis area. It’s beautiful there! But how am I going to get to my tech job in downtown/north Austin from there? I’m certainly not going to want to sit in traffic 45 minutes/1 hour each way 5 days/week just because the libraries are open 2 more days/week. I won’t have time to enjoy all those green spaces, parks, pools, great places to hang out, etc. because I’m sitting in traffic an extra 10 hours per week.

Livability issues are important, but for most of us that are still not independantly wealthy, employment and getting to your job in a timely manner is a larger issue. When I was living/working downtown, I got to work in less than 10 minutes by bicycle. I saved myself 1-1.5 hours per day commuting. When you have an extra 5-10 hours per week saved from commuting, you actually have time to ENJOY all those livability things Scott mentioned instead of spending your evenings stuck on Mopac…


Scott - 9 years ago

My second point per the city grid is as follows:
Simply, Austin does not have the repititive grid pattern common to most cities. Even
the diagonals like parmer are all over the place. Too much retail is on interstate frontage,
which exponentially increases gridlock spilling off already overcrowded interstates.
Quite simply, Austin was not designed for the growth that has overwhelmed it the last 10-15 years. The tollways and such are just stopgap measures that don’t make up for lack of
a proper gridlike network of blvds., or proper planning per some semblance of a workable
alternative road network.
My feeling is its not even necessarily in Austin’s best interest to grow, if it simply means
mega-apartment complexes, flavourless national chains, and a dumping of traffic on an area
that wasn’t built to handle it in the first place. Maybe it was meant to stay at the pre ’85
400,000 or so. I’m sure that there are lots of folks that wish it was so. Growth for the
sake of growth is equivalent to a cancer, in that it sucks all elements inside its path,
and expunges all life. This is pretty much how I interpret what I see north of 45th.
I see two cities. One is the glorious old Austin south of 45th, from Hyde Park south
through downtown to a good swath of south congress and thereabouts. Most livable
and funky. Two is most of the area north of 45th, including the suburbs. Quite sterile
and souless.
Again, why grow, if the only outcome is a mass paving over of land with little to nothing to add
to the special personality of old Austin? As someone said earlier, you can see the same
thing in Phoenix, Denver, Vegas, etc. I say slow it down with moratoriums on growth until they can decide how to properly create areas that compliment, if not add, to the charm
and uniqueness of Austin. At a certain point, perhaps maybe just five years, this souless
growth will begin to overwhelm the personality of Austin as a whole, and possibly even
discourage folks from moving here. As Joni Mitchell sang, “They paved paradise, and put
up a parking lot”. Lets hope paradise(old austin, and the persona that goes with it) remains
a reality in image and fact.

Steve - 9 years ago

Hi Leon – the point of sharing my Mopac/1st to Oak Hill drive the other day was that the route I took was in fact NOT the direct route, due to an accident and slow southbound traffic on Mopac. I hate sitting in traffic and would rather drive further on arterial roads, which is what I did.

Scott – there are plenty of nice North Austin areas that are not “souless”. Take a drive through the NW Hills areas off Mesa Dr. between 2222 and 183. Or Great Hills and up Rain Creek Parkway and those areas. They are beautiful and hilly with nice parks. If you’re talking about the largely industrial areas off Braker/Kramer, which include lower cost housing and many apartments and duplexes, you’re right about the lack of character.

Regardless of north or south, Austin does have more public swimming pools per capita than any other US cities. There are a lot of big and small parks, including some very nice ones right on Lake Austin, such as Emma Long Park.

I do love South Austin for many reasons, but don’t want to give the impression that North Austin is severly lacking. For someone who works north, South Austin isn’t a good commute, and work location drives a lot of the housing decision for people moving here.


Leon Fu - 9 years ago

Hey Scott,

I don’t think Austin really has a choice whether or not it grows. I know many people like yourself that doesn’t want Austin to grow. Like it’s a choice. Unfortunatly, the reasons we love living here are the same reason why more people and businesses will continue to live here. Either the city council attempts to manage growth in a positive way or it doesn’t and the city grows until it no longer is a desirable place to live. You mention prosperous, rapid growth cities like Phoenix, Vegas, Denver, etc. I would rather be like those cities than stagnant, dying cities like St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, Altoona, and other cities in the upper midwest. Growth isn’t a choice. We must grow because we can’t stop people from moving here. The only way to stop growth is to eliminate the reasons we love living here because those are the same reasons that are driving growth. So hopefully, the city council will manage our growth in an intelligent way and perserve the positive aspects of growth while keeping the negative to a minimum.


Scott - 9 years ago

Hey folks, we should grab a beer somwhere and talk about this stuff. I’m up for it, let me
know if anyone is interested.
My template for properly managed growth would be Portland, Oregon, which is approximately
the same size metro as Austin. They have a complete blueprint, which stems from the city
centre and radiates out. All new growth must fit the same pattern of requisites, per greenspaces and proper mix of retail, density, and the like. All must fit into the aforesaid master plan, much like a master-planned community has regs per construction and modifications of the same. The end result is that Portland has been voted one of the best
cities to live in the WORLD by mercer consulting, prob the most respected city ranking survey
that exists. Mercer has an exhaustive system of weightings, not just what is hip, affordable,
growing, and so on. Portland beat out New York City and Seattle, heck, even Milan, Italy,
for that matter. Didn’t see Austin on that quality of life survey, and prob never will.
Let me answer that by saying what I DON’T see when I drive around Austin. Don’t see:
amateur sports leagues in parks, don’t see professional teams(largest city without one),
don’t see viable things to do during the daytime hours in the area other than shopping,
don’t see museums or other family places to go on week-ends like zoos and amusement
parks, I see a downtown entertainment district almost entirely geared toward college kids
and very young twenty-somethings(under 25), and BTW, trying to figure out how they
are going to attract 30-ish and up folks to buy 300K and up condos in the area if that
means they get to hang out with college kids on 6th and warehouse on week-ends.
What I see is an extremely overgrown, overrated city, almost primarily geared towards
20-somethings and transient tech workers. What I don’t see is a city with the requisite
qualities that attract older singles and families. Try finding any families strolling downtown
on week-ends. Or even older singles over 30.
This is simply a college town on steroids, with a small tech sector attached. Nothing more,
nothing less…..

Leave a Reply: