Archives for September 2010

Austin Bike Share Doesn’t Exist. It Should!

posing in front of the hotel to make sure the delegation knew about the bike system, and then encourage them to try it

[Thanks to Charley Ayres with the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce for the above pic!]

Just got back from Minneapolis as part of a delegation from the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s annual InterCity visit.  One of the most impressive city amenities in Minneapolis is a robust and professionally operated bike share system.  The system is called Nice Bike and you’ll find stations scattered throughout the urban core, located around destinations people need/want to get to.

It was around this time last year, when traveling in Montreal, that I was first introduced to a fully functional bike share system.  That system was called BIXI, but it was the same bike design used in Minneapolis.  The system works insanely well.  You can become a member, or pay-as-you-go.  The three-geared bikes are comfortable and well maintained.

The most important element of these systems a critical mass of stations.  A successful shared bike system is analogous to a network that increases its utility as more nodes are added.  Place the stations in places where people need them.  The more stations the better.

A shared bike system could help solve some “last mile” challenges facing mass-transit.  The productivity of a shared bike system for residents, workers, visitors is potentially leaps and bounds more cost effective than buses for last mile transit.  As such, I believe a shared bike system should be injected into Austin’s mobility planning.

Just as importantly, a shared bike system is a superb recreational amenity for the city.  Imagine how useful this could be for visitors to Austin!  Don’t rent a car.  Rent a bike!  Make it leisurely.

It was fortunate for supporters of this system that so many decision makers were on this trip.  CM Riley, CM Cole, CM Morrison, and Mayor Leffingwell were all in attendance in Minneapolis, and hopefully returned more informed about the potential of a bike share system in Austin.  Below is a map I quickly created that shows general destinations where anyone could pickup or drop off their shared bike.

Bar 96 + Adjacent Trailer “East Side King” (from the chefs of Uchi) OPEN

Bar 96 + Adjacent Trailer “East Side King” (from the chefs of Uchi) OPEN

Bar 96 on Rainey street opened this weekend.  It’s a sports bar concept – but the food is not your traditional sports fan fare.  A trailer called East Side King has opened in conjunction with the bar.  Here’s a look at their menu (click once for image page, click again to enlarge):

East Side King Menu

Jude and I enjoyed a small, but yummy sampling when we were there over the weekend.  It’s my understanding that the trailer will be fully open and serving from the menu next week.

I’m really starting to enjoy the trend of international-themed food trailers / restaurants in the district.  With G’Raj Mahal, Cazamance, El Naranjo, and of course, the International House of Pancakes (wakka wakka), all within walking-distance from the several area condos and single-family homes, a resident of these parts is not likely to get bored with their food choices any time soon.

Downtown Austin Open Houses

downtown Austin open house listings for Sunday, September 26th.
(Got the wrong week? Click here)

Sunday

1. 603 Davis St, The Shore Condos #1603, 2bd/3ba $650,000 1-3pm [Urbanspace]
2. 1704 West Ave, West Ave Condos #102, 2bd/3ba $345,000 2-4pm [Diane Dopson Properties]
3. 360 Nueces St, 360 Condos #3409, 2bd/2ba $549,000 12-4pm [Zee Realty]
4. 603 Davis St, The Shore Condos #911, 2bd/2ba $399,900 1-3pm [Urbanspace]
5. 360 Nueces St, 360 Condos #2711, 1bd/1ba $569,700 12-4pm [Zee Realty]
6. 360 Nueces St, 360 Condos #3901, 2bd/2ba $368,000 12-4pm [Zee Realty]

Expand your home search using DAB’s map-based Austin Property Search

When you’re done with the open houses, you can enjoy an afternoon on Lady Bird Lake by renting a canoe or kayak from at the Texas Rowing Center. Or, dine al-fresco at Annie’s Cafe on Congress Ave for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Make sure to checkout my transaction report from August.

-Jude

The Austonian Gets A Cafe

The ABJ is reporting that Caffe Medici will open its third location, this time at downtown Austin’s Austonian condominium.  2,200 square feet of retail space on the Congress Ave side will cost Caffe Medici mid-$30s psf.

A Different View

As Amber and I walked out of Frank last week, I couldn’t help but notice this view.  There’s nothing particularly dramatic about it.  What is interesting, to me at least, is that for years this view didn’t exist.

201 E 5th Street obstructed the view to 5th Street from this block of Colorado St.  That building was recently razed, and was replaced with a surface level parking lot.  Eventually, the “1 Hotel” is supposed to occupy the land once they find the capital to commence with site permitting and construction.

Until then, the open space replaces a vacant and ugly building.  I’m usually against taking down a building of higher and better use and replacing it with a surface level parking lot.  But in this instance I’m ambivalent.  Now, the “energy” at 5th @ Colorado, a gateway into downtown Austin’s Warehouse District, just feels good… better.

It’s more inviting to see through to Colorado St, rather than walk around what was a “dead” building. A completed “1 Hotel” would energize the district, but until that time, this surface level parking lot is better than what it replaced.

-Jude