Archives for May 2010

Mathews Elementary

Based on my experience and observations, downtown does not have many families with teenagers, however we have lots of families with infants and toddlers. Many downtown Austin residents are making important decisions about their children’s education.

Fortunately, downtown feeds into one of the City’s best schools, an exemplary school:  Mathews Elementary.  Built in 1916, and located on West Lynn, the current boundaries for feeding students includes the UT graduate student housing on Lake Austin Blvd.  This is the primary reason for Mathews’ diversity of cultures and backgrounds.

Right now Mathews only serves a dozen or so students from the downtown core.  But, it’s just a matter of 2-4 years before a wave of downtown toddlers enter the AISD school system.  Downtown Austin families with infants, that have moved here in the past few years, can sleep well knowing that [by good fortune] their children will have access to an exemplary elementary school.

Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association: Urban Core Happy Hour Event

From a DANA Facebook event invite that I just received:

“Enjoy the company of friends and neighbors while experiencing Austin’s only Point Tower, Spring Condominium. Take in a 360-degree view of Austin from the soaring 25th floor or live music on the pool deck while enjoying complimentary food and cocktails all evening long.

During the Urban Core Happy Hour, make sure you glimpse a view of our neighbor to the south, The Long Center, our city’s premiere performing arts venue, just walking distance from downtown. The friendly folks from the Long Center’s Catalyst 8 group will be joining us to share information on their upcoming events and letting everyone know how they can directly support the arts in Austin.

Grab a friend and put a little spring in your step as you head over to what promises to be one of our best events yet! This happy hour is open to the public and we look forward to seeing you all there!

We would like to thank Tito’s Vodka, Lone Star Beer, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, The Long Center for the Performing Arts and, our hosts, Spring Condominiums for their contributions to this event.”

Date: Thursday, May 13, Time: 6:30pm, Location: Spring Condominiums @ 300 Bowie Street, 78701.

***All are welcome, and we would love for your participation in this event to lead to a DANA membership!***

DANA offers four levels of memberships:

  • Individual ($25.00)
  • Household ($40.00) The Household level includes a second household member at Individual level.
  • Sponsor ($100.00) The Business Sponsorship level allows you a logo, marketing information, and a link on the DANA web site.
  • Non-Profit Sponsor ($50.00) The Non-Profit Business Sponsorship level allows you a logo, marketing information, and a link on the DANA web site.

You can pay by Check, Credit card or PayPal by selecting one of the membership types listed above.

You do not have to live downtown to join DANA, but only members that live downtown are eligible to vote in Board elections.

Click Here for more information!

Monday Morning Link Roundup

Lot’s of news coming out of downtown Austin.

  1. A very nice slide show of a finished out Austonian residence.  This will no doubt become one of their model units.  Back in November, the Austonian team invited Downtown Austin Blog to take some interior pics.  You can see those hereBTW, the first Austonian closing is scheduled for June 7th. (!)
  2. Texas Facilities Commission has big plans for the Capitol complex over the next couple of decades.  They are calling for more dense development surrounding the Capitol with enough square footage to fill 13 Frost Bank towers.
  3. The re-envisioned Block 51 development is gaining new traction.  A 28 story condominium and 16 story office building could replace the surface level parking lot just west of the downtown Austin post office.
  4. It appears that Aquaterra is prepping to break ground.  Perhaps re-branded, and as an apartment building rather than a condominium.
  5. The Austin Convention Center is facing a potential cash shortage.  More downtown hotel space is needed in order to recruit more and bigger conventions.

Think Big, Live Small: I Love Efficient Living in Downtown Austin (A Sunday Thought)

Tiny Turtle Approves Of Your Small Abode

When I talk to people about living in downtown Austin, one of the main questions (I italicize the word, because it’s generally not really even a question, but almost a statement, filled with doubt and incredulity – often said with wide-eyes and some form of pitied-awe) I get is “How on earth do you live in such a small space?”

It’s true, 877 square feet (the size of Jude and I’s first place downtown, The Sabine), doesn’t really sound like a lot, given that most of our friend’s places in the suburbs are triple the size or more, but I’ll be honest, it was really, truly, great.  Jude and I try very much to embrace a minimalist lifestyle in terms of our material possessions and enjoy putting the emphasis of our lives on experiences rather than objects.

Which is why I was inspired when I read a story in this month’s Real Simple magazine (the one magazine that I regularly read).  The headline was “Happily Ever After, in 351 Square Feet.”

Did you catch that?  351 feet.

The story is about a couple that lost their home in a fire, and due to financial necessity, had to move into a 351 square foot shed in the back of their lot. Making the most of their situation, they converted this shed into a pretty bad-ass model of efficient living – scaling down on their material needs, employing multiple uses for spaces/furniture, and making sure every square foot of space has a purpose.

To me, there is something very freeing and inspiring about using only what you need, and being thoughtful in your consumption and use of space.  Certainly, it is great to have ample room, but with ample room often comes the burden a million things you have to deal with and are often emotionally held down by – at least in my experience and what I see with those I know.

So, my Sunday thought: Living in a small space not only is an urban-planning strategy to maximize scarce land-use and energy resources, but, on a very personal level, encourages a lifestyle of thoughtful consumption and creativity of living.

Aquaterra Reanimated

Aquaterra Reanimated

Yesterday, DAB commenter Chop Chop reminded us that Aquaterra isn’t dead. Back in February the ABJ’s Jacob Dirr had word from Rhode Partners that the project, long forgotten, was gaining new traction.

Sure enough, we found the permits.

Liz Rau, an architect with Rhode Partners filed a new permit application on April 6th.  Simultaneously, general contractor Lyda Swinerton pulled permits for plumbing, electrical, mechanical.  The original and approved 20 story (163 unit) site plan expired on April 20th, so it’s possible we could see some changes.

With over $1B in debt, the developer, Crescent Resources, went through a bankruptcy in 2009.  From what we can glean from the news, the lenders took over the company.  With limited residential product coming to market, and construction crews looking for projects, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a project announced soon, and it might be Aquaterra [possibly rebranded].

Located at 210 Barton Springs Rd, next to the Hyatt, Aquaterra would have one of the best views of downtown Austin in the city.  Back in 2007, when the Aquaterra sales center was firing on all cylinders, they were seeing reservations for more than $500psf.  With the existing tier one buildings coming online, that would be a difficult price point to compete near over the next couple of years.

-Jude