Ditch the Suburbs and Head to Downtown ATX

I think we can all agree that Austin is a beautiful city, and downtown Austin displays the character of Austin in the very heart of the city.

Downtown Austin is endearing because it is so much more than just a concrete jungle. If you think about it, downtown Austin has everything that Austinites hold dear:

  1. Lots of green spaces, trails and outdoor amenities

    -The glorious Lady Bird Lake

    -The 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

    -The impressive Shoal Creek Trail

    -The beautiful Waller Creek Park

    -The vibrant Republic Square

  2. Live music on 6th Street and at Austin City Limits

  3. Easy access to world renowned festivals such as ACL and SXSW

  4. Award-winning restaurants

  5. Proximity to the University of Texas—Sports, Musicals, and Concert Venues

  6. A Farmer’s Market

  7. One of the nation’s best new public libraries

  8. A heathy dose of weird

More and more residents looking to downsize are now ditching their tired family home in the suburbs and opting to buy a luxury, full service condo in Downtown Austin. With restaurants, shopping, coffee, museums, entertainment and parks steps away from your door, you won’t have to get in your car every time you want to get a cup of coffee or see a movie. Plus, many of these luxury condos provide full service amenities like valet parking and on-site concierges without any exterior maintenance hassles. All of this allows you to spend your time doing the things you love and gives you the ability to savor the vibrant downtown lifestyle.

Downtown Austin condos come in all sizes and price ranges. Anything from the high $200k’s to the millions is typical. If you want to stay away from the louder side of Downtown, try the Warehouse District near 4th Street where you’ll find the more upscale restaurants and bars. A few of our favorite luxury buildings are The Austonian, The W Residences, and Avenue Lofts.

It’s really quite simple. Many people - both empty-nesters and millennials - are looking to simplify their lives. 

  • They value the ease of a "lock & leave" lifestyle

  • They can spend their spare time doing the things that they love instead of typical house chores - lawn, home repairs, etc.

  • They want to be be able to travel the world without having to worry about the security and maintenance of their home

  • They want to be closer to their jobs, cutting out the commute

In short, people want to take advantage of the benefits of modern life. For many, this means leaving behind last century’s model of suburban living.

Are you interested in learning more about the Downtown Austin lifestyle?

Click below to find more information and available properties!

The "Lock-and-Leave Lifestyle"

More and more Austin residents have been combing the real estate market for “Lock-and-Leave” Communities, which are usually smaller homes with amenities or automation systems that enable an on-the-go lifestyle.

World travelers, empty nesters, & busy millennials are all craving this style of home ownership, built for convenience and security. Lock-and-leave living allows people to own a home while enjoying the freedom of very few maintenance responsibilities.  It gives the homeowner the freedom to lock the house up and leave for an extended time without having to worry about the yard getting overgrown or needing water while the owner is away. The monthly HOA fees at these communities pay for the landscaping of both the front and back yards, as well as the outside water. This type of “lock-and-leave” living has always been a primary advantage of condominium ownership, but more and more detached home communities are offering lock-and-leave security and maintenance services as part of a monthly fee, which can vary depending on the size and location of the housing unit (usually averaging between $150 – $400). For example, many times for “lock-and-leave” home owners, a yard is important for a dog to run around in, but having no yard work to do on the weekends is equally important!

Here are some common features of lock-and-leave communities:

  1. Publicly maintained lawns and landscape maintenance

  2. Public pools, golf courses, parks & walking trails

  3. Security: Gated entry and secure entrances- these communities take extra precautions to ensure that when you lock and leave, your home is safe and secure.

  4. Lower energy footprint-usually lock-and-leave homes are smaller garden homes with a lower energy bill & footprint, which save you money!

For available condominium homes, check out active listings here. If you are looking for some lock-and-leave detached home communities in the greater Austin area, try Belterra Village near Dripping Springs, the Cottages at Meadow Lake in the North Austin/Round Rock area, Southpark Meadows in Southwest Austin, and Santa Rita Ranch out near Liberty Hill.

Interested in finding a lock and leave home or condo of your own? Contact me today!


Project Catalyst, Recently Renamed "4700 East," Still Moving Forward

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In its August meeting, the Austin City Council approved the re-zoning measures required for Project Catalyst, recently renamed 4700 East, to keep moving forward. If the mixed-use development project proceeds as planned, it will sit on a a 97-acre site in Southeast Austin and will neighbor Oracle’s new 40-acre corporate campus.

Often referred to as Austin’s future “Third Downtown" (with the Domain North being Austin’s “Second Downtown”), Nimes Capital has proposed building 4,700 residential units, 600 hotel rooms, 4 million square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of medical and dental office space, and 435,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at 4700 East. In short, an “urban village” would be created in this area near the corner of East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley Road that would basically offer, well, everything!

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The city could require developers to offer hundreds of income-restricted affordable housing units, but it would only do so if the developers build structures above the restricted height of 60 feet. To maintain the promise of affordable housing in the area, the developer is currently promising that 8-12% (400-550) of the units will be income-restricted as a trade off for greater building heights. Additionally, the developer formally committed to reserve 10 units for people who are transitioning out of homelessness. These housing units will be paid for with vouchers supplied by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

In order for 4700 East to be built, there are some other buildings that will need to be removed for this project to move forward. For this reason, developers have been slowly purchasing apartments in the area over the course of the past several years. The buildings that would be removed, which are roughly 60% student-occupied, are The Ballpark North and Town Lake, as well as the Quad East, West and South. The properties account for a total of 3,702 bedrooms and 1,308 units, according to city documents. Developers will also ensure gradual displacement of current residents in the area—250 of the existing units on site will not be redeveloped or demolished for five years in an effort to defray displacement.

Construction is not envisioned to begin on 4700 East before 2020. However, once the project is officially approved by the Austin City Council, the development will be built slowly over a 25 year period in five different phases along the way. The developer will return to the city council for a third and final hearing in September, at which it will need to receive at least six votes in favor to pass.

Austin FC

The City of Austin has it all—live music, great food, hike & bike trails, and fantastic schools.  But, for a long time, the city has lacked one ingredient that some would say is essential to a major city.  In fact, as the 11th most populous city in the United States, it is highly unusual that Austin doesn’t yet have several of these yet... 

What ingredient are we talking about?  That’s right—a professional sports team.  The University of Texas hasn’t minded the absence, as college sports have basically been our pro team of choice in Austin.  Avid pro fans can also always look north to Dallas, south to San Antonio or east to Houston to scratch the itch even more.

In 2016, the Austin Sol (ultimate frisbee) became the very first professional sports team in Austin, although most Austinites would be hard pressed to tell where and when they play (Can you?).

However, on September 5th, everyone will know that a PROFESSIONAL sports team is coming to town.  Austin FC, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team will host a groundbreaking ceremony for a $242 million North Austin soccer stadium. The stadium site, located on 24 acres at McKalla Place near The Domain, is on track to host the league's 27th team beginning in the spring of 2021.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Dave Greeley, the president of the Austin FC parent company Two Oak Ventures, hopes to make an additional announcement in the coming weeks about the details of a separate training facility for the team that is also in the works. 

In addition, we all know one of the investors in Austin FC. We know him not just from the movies, but also from his face at all of the UT home games.  Matthew McConaughy has joined the investor group bringing the team to town.  According to McConaughy, "Austin FC is a healthy investment in our city's culture and future. The most diverse and borderless game in the world is now coming to one of the most multicultural, creative and diverse cities in the world."

So, Austin…How should we react to getting our first MAJOR professional sports team?  Well, in the words of McConaughy, I guess we should all just say, “All right. All right. All right!”

Austin's Homeless Dilemma

In June 2019, the Austin City Council repealed an ordinance that prohibited homeless camping. The city cited their decision based on how ineffective the ordinance has been to date. In other words, “criminalizing” homelessness only adds additional barriers (court dates, fines, misdemeanors, etc) for someone trying to escape the cycle of homelessness and poverty.  Mayor Adler pointed out that between 2014-2016, the city issued 18,000 tickets to homeless individuals, but the city saw very little positive change from issuing these tickets.

 In addition to the freedom given to the homeless to sleep out in the open unrestricted, the city also unanimously lifted the ban on sitting on sidewalks/panhandling and unanimously approved buying property for a new homeless shelter near Ben White Boulevard & Bannister Lane. 

However, one barrier that the city perhaps did not consider fully were the residents of Austin. Repealing the ordinance has met with severe backlash, particularly from downtown business owners who are now seeing decreased business and increased security concerns due to tent cities popping up downtown.  In addition, some residents of South Austin near the Ben White and Bannister Lane new homeless shelter location are not happy about the impact that the city’s decision might have on their home property values.

Another person is not happy with the city’s decision: the Governor of Texas. Just days after the Council’s decision, the Texas state governor, Greg Abbott, got involved , threatening a state intervention to undo the council’s 9-2 decision.  Abbott said, “If Austin—or any other Texas city—permits camping on city streets it will be yet another local ordinance the State of Texas will override.”

On August 21, 2019 the city council met again and gave opportunity for residents to express concern and voice questions. Mayor Adler stated that he still believes the city is heading in the right direction by lifting the ordinance and trying to address the homeless problem a different way. The city announced at the August meeting that they would not create “safe spaces” for tent cities to be constructed, since over time this would be a drain on the tax payer dollar.  However, one “safety” proposition that was suggested was that the city issue new restrictions on homeless camping in areas adjacent to roadways, medians and transit facilities, as well as sidewalks, trails, schools, child care facilities, areas with high pedestrian activity, shelters and the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. These new restrictions will likely would be up for a council vote in September.

The next opportunity for people to attend a forum on homelessness is on August 29 at the University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. Register here.

So what is your position on this? Do you agree with the governor or the mayor? Have you noticed an increase in homeless activity in your neighborhood or area since the ordinance was lifted? What should the city do moving forward to address both the needs of the homeless population and the needs of small business owners and residents as well? Sound off in the comments below!

RECAP OF TIMELINE:

June 21, 2019: City council repeals ordinances restricting homeless camping, panhandling, and sitting on sidewalks. 

June 23, 2019:  Gov Abbott threatens to overturn Austin’s easing of homelessness rules

Aug 21, 2019: Two months of backlash from the city and Texas Governor: Town Hall meeting in which the Mayor and City council heard concerns and answered questions.  However, the city upheld the repeal and will only consider a few new restrictions on tent cities.   

Aug 29, 2019: Forum on homelessness at the University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

September council meeting:  the City will vote on proposed new restrictions to limit some areas of town where tent cities would not be allowed.