Gabardine, You’re no Shady Hollow

I was reading an article about a new subdivision in South Austin yesterday and was struck by the blatant misrepresentation of the neighborhood. The new subdivision is called Gabardine and is located on Frate Barker Rd. Frate Barker connects Manchaca Rd. and Brodie Ln.

The article states:

“Gabardine is a unique community in the sought-after Shady Hollow neighborhood”.

Uh, no it’s not.

Gabardine, I’ve sold homes in Shady Hollow. I know Shady Hollow. Shady Hollow is a friend of mine. Gabardine, you’re no Shady Hollow.

Shady Hollow is a long established “move up” neighborhood of homes on big lots with mature trees. Gabardine is a small enclave built on what was a 20 or 30 acre treeless meadow on Frate Barker Rd. It bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to Shady Hollow in appearance or otherwise. It shares a zipcode and set of schools. That’s it. Yet, the Gabardine developers have made the decision that it needs to be presented as a part of Shady Hollow.

Gabardine is one of those “new age” subdivisions which is a blend of condo/home, with higher HOA fees but no yard maintenance for your freestanding condo home. The roads are private and owned/maintained by the home owners. There is no pedestrian connectivity between Shady Hollow and Gabardine. The two neighborhoods are completely unconnected in location, design and spirit. An owner at Gabardine will pay no Shady Hollow HOA fees nor have access to any of the Shady Hollow amenities. Gabardine will have its own pool and community amenities which will not be available to Shady Hollow residents.

Yet, in the article, Gabardine lays claim to being part of Shady Hollow. On the Gabardine website, it’s presented at the top of the home page as “a tailored little pocket of Shady Hollow”. And elsewhere on the home page is stated: “At last. You’ve reached the tailored little pocket of Shady Hollow” … “Shady Hollow is one of the most sought after areas of town for many home buyers” … “Gabardine is a different kind of community for the Shady Hollow area” …

So why the vigorous co-opting of the name “Shady Hollow”?

One can only assume it’s a marketing decision to ride the coat tails of an established, well known “brand name” and location. This is common. DR Horton did the same thing with its section of Bauerle Ranch at Shady Hollow, though residents of that neighborhood do in fact have to drive through Shady Hollow.

Often we’ll see a subdivision use this “at” connector, such as Alta Vista at Circle C. Sometimes the neighborhood is in fact placed under the same HOA umbrella as the parent subdivision, yet remains somewhat disconnected geographically. I’ve long thought the Wildflower at Circle C was not really part of Circle C proper, because it’s on the other side of Mopac and the homes were built on smaller lots and, to me, it just doesn’t “feel” like Circle C. But it can at least claim biological/genetic proof that it is. It passes the paternity test, whereas pretenders such as Gabardine do not even come close.

Why does this bug me? Because it confuses the consumer. A home buyer coming from out of state who may have heard of Shady Hollow and be interested in looking at the type of homes and lots offered by Shady Hollow is not at all the type of buyer who would be interested in the product at Gabardine. Gabardine should establish its own identity and market niche. It has a Unique Living Proposition completely unrelated to that which draws a Shady Hollow buyer, so I just don’t get the lame attempt to buddy up with Shady Hollow.

Gabardine, get real. Decide who/what you want to be and sell yourself on your own merits. But don’t insult buyers and Realtors by peppering your home page with the keywords “Shady Hollow” and trying to pretend that a connection exists. We’re not dumb, you know.

14 thoughts on “Gabardine, You’re no Shady Hollow”

  1. Seems like the kind of misleading advertising becomes moot when buyers are using the graphical map-MLS mashups. It was big when the internet unleashed free access to MLS listings to the public, and those map mashups are almost as game changing. Not only because it saves a step (the mapquesting or an address), but the immediacy of seeing the prices and pictures of homes in the same area is highly underrated. I feel like I can spend 5 minutes clicking around a neighborhood and I already have a decent feel as to neighborhood character and what comps may look like.

  2. Hi Bob,

    Yes, the mapping and internet photos have changed the home searching experience for buyers.

    But I would argue that it takes more than 5 minutes of map and photo browsing to learn everything one needs to know about a neighborhood and/or home. Yes, you can learn a lot, but I don’t think you can determine enough from that alone to either rule in or rule out a home for further consideration.

    The exception would be seeing from a map view that a home backs to a freeway, or shopping center parking lot or something like that.

    Thanks for you input.


  3. This is mind boggling … one of those developments that will probably end up in foreclosure or auction soon.

    Their price / sqft is around $150, according to the price sheets, while you can get a home with a true yard at Shady Hollow for around $110-$120/sq.ft.

    Their HOA is $155/month, Shady Hollow is around $30-$40, for the exact same amenities.

    The best of course is this line from the website “Within 3 miles of Gabardine you can grab your Starbucks, head to HEB and knock out all of your grocery shopping …”
    What convenience! Where else in Austin can you get a restaurant, HEB or Starbucks that’s closer than 3 miles?

  4. > Their HOA is $155/month, Shady Hollow is around $30-$40, for the exact same amenities.

    Hi Jim,

    Yeah, we pay $90/mo. to have our yard mowed every two weeks. I’ve never understood the “lock and leave” sales pitch, whereby one pays a really high monthly HOA and receives services/benefits that wuold cost less than the HOA fee if contracted for your regular home.

    Plus, I don’t ever want to be part owner in what is technically a parking lot shaped like a street.


  5. Anyone who is looking at property from out of state wouldn’t be stupid enough to come look at property sight unseen, not in the age of the internet. Modern real estate websites have all of the acreage information, and photos will show what kind of landscaping/trees, etc. This is all that should matter.

    Someone from out of state isn’t going to go “Oh, THAT Shady Hollow in far southwest Austin!” It’s not like it’s dinner table conversation in Peoria or Overland Park. I doubt you’ll even find many people in North Austin who’ve heard of Shady Hollow.

    This is much ado about nothing – look at any large city and you’ll find that the ‘name’ of an existing neighborhood ends up stretching beyond the original borders. I’ve lived in “North Beacon Hill” (but the old Beacon Hill has much nicer houses and was never suffering by inadvertent association), and “Park Slope” is now 40 blocks longer than it was in the 1980’s. Big deal.

    People judge housing based on a number of factors, and a generic name (very, very generic) name like Shady Hollow pretty much belongs to nobody. The quality of construction, schools, age of the housing, HOA fees and other factors are what matters.

  6. Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for your comment.

    In fact we do hear from buyers who already have zeroed in on “brand name” subdivisions in Austin such as Steiner Ranch, Circle C, Avery Ranch, Belterra and Shady Hollow, to name a few.

    The Gabardine scenario outlined in the article would be like a Kia dealer going in, not next door, but down the street from a Volvo dealer, then using the search term “Volvo” in all their advertisments, claiming to be the newest “Volvo” car lot in town. We would think that improper because the products are entirely different. Gabardine is claiming to be a Volvo and it’s not.

    In terms of “areas”, and certain shorthand names that get used over time to include extensions of homogenous and similar adjecent areas, your point has merit. For example, Travis Heights is now generally considered to be the square bounded by the river to the north, S. Congress and IH35 to the west and east, and Oltorf on the South. This even though there are any number of subdivision names contained in that area. The name Travis Heights really defines a section of town and, with it, a certain identity and lifestyle. It works in that instance because there is no notable difference between the look and feel of the areas contained in “Travis Heights”.

    Yet, Sherwood Forest, just south of Oltorf is not and will never be called Travis Heights. Those are 60s and 70s houses, mostly ramblers, and even though they are a stones throw away, they are not Travis Heights homes.

    And Gabardine is not Shady Hollow. Not even close.


  7. I live in Gabardine. It is lovely and you DO get yard maintenence. The style is very different from the large sprawling Shady Hollow homes with large lawns and that is why we chose it. These days Shady Hollow is generally known as an area of town, not a neighborhood. When describing, perhaps they could have used the term Shady Hollow area or community, but, any decent buyer does their research and knows what they are getting. As you say, “We’re not dumb, you know.”

  8. Hi Lynny,

    I drove past Gaberdine yesterday in fact, when I was in Olympic Heights, and it’s nice to see Gaberdine coming along and slowly getting built out. The houses are cute. It’s not a product type that I generally recommend to buyers, but for certain market demographics, it’s a good fit. I hope you enjoy the home and location.


  9. I’m looking to buy my first home. Having grown up in the South Austin area, I would love to live in Shady Hollow “proper” (even with all of that nasty rush hour traffic), but as a single guy making only $70,000 / year, that’s just not realistic for me right now, even if I have tons of future earning “potential” as a young lawyer. Garbardine seems nice enough. Definitely nicer than an apartment. And really, what better options do I have in Southwest Austin on my salary? It’s not exactly the most affordable part of town.

  10. Hi Zak,

    You have a point. I still don’t like these hybrid house-condo housing products. I think a buyer would be better off purchasing a smaller floorplan in Olympic Heights in the $160Ks.

    You’re income will qualify you for a $2,000/mo payment, and you can buy something for much less than that, even one of the older Shady Hollow homes in the low $200s.

    Thanks for posting your comment.


  11. This is a bit of a frustrating article to me as I was just in the Gabardine neighborhood last weekend and we are seriously considering building a condo in there.

    “Gabardine is a small enclave built on what was a 20 or 30 acre treeless meadow on Frate Barker Rd.” – There are a ton of trees in this neighborhood and calling it treeless is simply not accurate.

    “Gabardine is one of those “new age” subdivisions which is a blend of condo/home, with higher HOA fees but no yard maintenance for your freestanding condo home.” – This statement is also simply not true. The HOA covers all exterior maintenance for landscaping, exterior paint, gutters and roof as well as the maintenance of the amenity center.

    The Gabardine neighborhood offers a great location, no exterior maintenance for a active families, lots of trees, amenities and most of all a brand new home. We are relocating from San Antonio to Austin and Shady Hollow offers an average neighborhood of older homes for slightly less money. Attempting to represent Shady Hollow as an exclusive neighborhood is a stretch. I get that condos aren’t for everyone, but I’m not sure why you took the time to bash a new neighborhood with inaccurate info. I would expect the Shady Hollow area to welcome higher income families to the area.

  12. Hi Don,

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate it.

    Shady Hollow is in fact a separate and different neighborhood than Gabardine, with separate HOAs and no common amenities or streets. Gabardine is no more part of Shady Hollow than your neighbors Olympic Heights and Rancho Alto down the street. If you disagree, try to use the Shady Hollow pool or the community center. You’ll be told that those are for “residents of Shady Hollow” only. Shady Hollow has no condos. Gabardine is 100% condos.

    My beef when initially writing the article was with the blatant and overstated way Gaberdine initially tried to glom on to the Shady Hollow name. It was wrong, deceitful. The article explains why. I see that the keyword salting and over the top way in which that claim was made in 2009 is reduced now, but the false claim of being part of “Shady Hollow” remains. No other nearby neighborhood tries to make that claim. Shady Hollow is not a generic term for that section of Austin. It’s a specific name of a specific neighborhood and HOA.

    With regard to the product type, I still try to talk most buyers out of buying condos or hybrid condo houses. That’s just my opinion and not everyone agrees. That’s not to say it’s not a perfect solution for you, but I personally think single family detached homes are better purchase for most families in Austin than a condo, and I advise buyers of that.

    If you want to live in and be part of Shady Hollow, buy a home there. If you want to own a condo in South Austin, Gabardine might be an excellent choice for you, but it’s not a house in Shady Hollow. The developer is doing you no favors by allowing that confusion to continue. They can say “near” Shady Hollow, or “adjacent to” Shady Hollow, but cannot claim to belong to or be a part of the neighborhood in fact named Shady Hollow.

    Good luck, and welcome to Austin.

  13. Steve, some of your comments may have applied in 2010 when you wrote them. However if you want to be fair you should revisit Gabardine Gardens now to see what an attractive community it is becoming. Your beef with using ‘Shady Hollow’ as a descriptor is interesting since many of the residents in Gabardine Gardens used to live in Shady Hollow and similar sub-divisions. They moved to Gabardine Gardens because they no longer want to have to maintain a large older house and take care of a large yard. They are empty nesters who want to be able to ‘lock & leave’ so they can travel knowing that it is a gated community. Certainly the HOA fees are higher than Shady Hollow but there all they basically pay for are the pool, community center and tennis courts. At Gabardine Gardens the HOA fees include maintenance of the exterior of the homes, regular mowing around all the homes, grounds irrigation, pool and club house. And it is quite heavily treed too. Since it is gated it is very quiet with no through traffic and this allows residents to walk at ease and quickly get to know their neighbors. This type of living suits a growing demographic very well, namely those are are either retired or planning for it. I used to live in Shady Hollow and I have no problem with Gabardine co-opting that name to better describe the location.


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