Public Art and Austin Floods

Public Art and Austin Floods

art-in-public-spaces-lady-bird-lake-plaque

I recently wrote a little blurb on The People’s Gallery, a project that’s part of the Art in Public Places program by the City of Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services department.  I’m a fan of the program, and think these types of City projects and programs help to make our city great!

That’s why I’d like to continue, from time to time, highlighting these little gems of public works in Downtown Austin. Today’s piece, I’m embarrassed to say, just came into my purview, even though I’m an almost daily runner of Lady Bird Lake’s 3 mile loop.

I happened to notice it the other day, and thought I’d share some shots of the work, particularly since they highlight some history of the lake and Austin.  The piece is done by Deborah Mersky and is called [Read more...]





Judges Hill Neighborhood in Downtown Austin Applies to Become Local Historic District

Judges Hill Neighborhood in Downtown Austin Applies to Become Local Historic District

judges-hill-historic-district

We recently received notice that the Judges Hill Neighborhood Association, representing the area of downtown Austin between W 15th and W 18th and West Avenue and San Gabriel has applied for a rezoning to a Local Historic District.

Per the notice:

Local historic districts were created by the City Council as a tool to preserve the historic character of the city’s older neighborhoods by introducing design standards for additions and changes to existing buildings and for new construction within the district.  Designation of a neighborhood as a local historic district helps ensure that new construction within the district is compatible with the character of the area.  Local historic district designation does not prohibit change or new construction, but rather sets design parameters based upon historical precedents while encouraging conservation and energy efficiency.

Here’s a link to the notice, in its entirety. (note, in the second to last paragraph on the first page, it mentions “Hyde Park Local Historic District.”  We are assuming this is a typo and that the Hyde Park notice was used as a template for this notice).

A Local Historic District is not to be confused with a National Register Historic District:

local-historic-district-vs-national-register

 

If everything goes as planned, Judges Hill Historic District will join Castle Hill, Harthan Street, and Hyde Park as LHD’s.

If you live in Judges Hill and want more info – we came across this website that has a PLETHORA of info (we’re not sure how often it’s updated, though – so read with caution).





The Travis House Ghost Door

The Travis House Ghost Door

headstone

Have you seen the mysterious Travis House monument door at 18th and Guadalupe downtown?

Monument

From the look of it, the former Travis House site is in total stasis, but the sidewalk has been given the Great Streets treatment, even if for just half a block.

block pic

A little history: the Travis House was building constructed in 1945 as a 30-unit multi-family building, among whose tenants included a secretary for then-Congressman Lyndon Johnson. Within five years of being built, the building was converted into a hotel, named Hotel Guadalupe. In 1956, it was purchased by the YWCA and became one of the few places where black UT students were allowed to rent rooms while going to school on campus, according to city records.

Fast forward to the 1990s, and the YWCA chapter fell into bankruptcy and lost the building, at which point the Travis County Justice System converted the building into a halfway house for recently released prisoners. Predictably, that sparked a public safety outcry, due to the proximity to young UT students, which led to a period of limbo and vacancy for the Travis House. There were a series of low-profile, unsolved arsons in the building while it was generally used as a flop house by the homeless, amid growing clamors to destroy the building. Finally, in 2010 one of the fires found fuel and resulted in a two-alarm fire and the building was taken down.

rbz Travis House Fire 02

As a testament to that thrilling history, the door reconstruction stands there now, with the original carvings above the entrance and reclaimed bricks from the demolition. A fairly large plaque is posted on the south side.

plage

The historical significance of the building is debatable; however, the aesthetic effect of the monument, especially at night, is undoubtedly intriguing.





9th Annual Downtown Living Tour – May 19th, 2013 – Reserve Your Tickets

9th Annual Downtown Living Tour – May 19th, 2013 – Reserve Your Tickets

DLT 2013 Header

The 9th Annual Downtown Living Tour is a couple of weeks away.  Produced by the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA), the tour is a great way to tour downtown living, at your own pace, all in one day!

Get your DLT tickets now

This year, although the tour will still be self-guided, the tour will also have shuttle service to facilitate access to each tour stop (nice!), and will showcase the following buildings:

  1. The Whitley Apartments
  2. The Shore Condos
  3. Park West Residences
  4. 360 Condos
  5. Avenue Lofts (one of the few Art Deco buildings downtown)
  6. The Four Seasons Residences -RECEPTION – (VIP only, and only open from 4pm-5pm)
  7. Brazos Lofts (check out the history, formerly Capital Chevrolet)
  8. Towers of Town Lake (Penthouse, VIP only, only open from 1-4pm)
  9. Capital Studios (to-be-built Foundations Communities project designed by Dick Clark Architecture)
  10. LBJ’s apartment at JJ Pickle Building (VIP only, only open from 1-4pm)
  11. More stops to be announced!

There are some stops of particular note, primarily the official office suite of President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the JJ Pickle Building, an office suite he used during his presidency and the site of such landmark meetings as the Cold War discussions on December 6, 1966, which culminated in the first agreement with the Soviet Union to limit nuclear weapons, known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT).

The JJ Pickle building itself is part of a two-block complex of Federal Buildings in downtown Austin, and was designed by Texas Firms  Page-Southerland-Page and Brooks & Barr, and is textbook 1960s high-rise design.

Here are a few exclusive pictures of the interior of the office suite, which is remarkably intact.

The LBJ Suite is only open to VIP ticket holders, and there a very limited amount of VIP tickets – so we would recommend…

Get your DLT tickets now

 





Signals That Lustre Pearl Is Moving

Signals That Lustre Pearl Is Moving

97-rainey-street-austin-lustre-pearl

In response to an application to relocate the structure that is Lustre Pearl, the City of Austin Historic Landmark Commission staff recommendation is to permit the move once a new site is located and approved by staff.

Relocating the structure would free up the CBD zoned dirt for a mixed-use tower on the northern end of Rainey Street.

Opening Lustre Pearl in 2008, Bridget Dunlap was the first to see the opportunity in repurposing Rainey Street’s dilapidated CBD-zoned bungalows into bars.

From the HLC brief…

The house was built c. 1907. The City Directory indicates E.A. Murchison residing at 97 Rainey Street in the first listing for the address in the 1906-07 City Directory; however Mr. Murchison’s listing in the name directory indicates him residing at 1303 E. 12th Street.

The next listing in 1909 indicates physician and surgeon Dr. Samuel H. Haigler residing at the address. He resided there until 1913, after which Mrs. Sara A. Spence, widow of Robert Spense, was the resident and owner until at least 1924. J.C. Sample, a carpenter and his wife Minnie were the next residents until approximately 1933. For the remaining years the house was owned and rented by a series of families, none of which resided at the address for more than a few years at a time. All residents, save Dr. Haigler, were blue collar or “non-professional” workers with occupations such as waiter, dishwasher and janitor. Starting in the late 1940’s surnames of the residents indicate a demographic change from Anglo to Hispanic residents as is typical for addresses in the district.  - HLC background info (pdf)

 





Kevin Gant

Kevin Gant

Me and Kevin Gant in downtown Austin

Back in the early ’90s, an aspiring Austin musician was gaining lots of attention.  Kevin Gant was on a trajectory for becoming really famous, and suddenly he disappeared from the scene and his fans… for 25 years.

Kevin wouldn’t reappear to the public light until director Jay Duplass reached out to him.  Their conversation turned into a documentary, “Kevin”, that stumbled upon two weeks ago while browsing Netflix (I’ve been pushing the limits on the number of times a sane person can watch TopGear reruns, and this looked interesting enough).

Wow!  What a story. Huge talent.  Fascinating documentary about a local musician.

So, I finished the movie and went about my normal weekend.

Then, this past week while walking downtown after a DAA meeting with fellow board member, Fred Schmidt, I recognized Kevin from under his hat, waiting for the bus at Congress & 7th Street.  Being a newly minted fan, I dorked out a little, and approached him just to share my enthusiasm for him and his story.

If you couldn’t immediately tell from the documentary, Kevin simply exudes positive energy.  He was incredibly gracious given that a complete stranger (me) had just approached him.  When I asked for a picture, he even suggested “hold on, let me get my guitar out!”, then handed Fred and I free copies of his latest CD.  Cool!

Chance encounters with remarkable people.  This is what makes downtown Austin such a great place to live, work, or just walk through.

If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can buy the movie on YouTube, “Kevin“, or checkout his music on iTunes.

Kevin, it’s nice to have met you.  Thanks for telling your story.  Cheers to your journey.

-Jude





Hotels in Downtown Austin: Girls’ Night at the Omni Downtown

Hotels in Downtown Austin: Girls’ Night at the Omni Downtown

omni logo

I already live, work, and play in downtown Austin, which means that I know a lot about this area.  However, one element that I’m not really that familiar with is the hotels in downtown Austin.

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary stay at the Omni downtown.  I decided to take advantage of the free stay and do a mini stay-cation with a couple of fun girlfriends.  I figured this would be a different way to get to know the city, and have [Read more...]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 4/20/14 10:33 PM PDT. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided “AS IS” and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

Information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2014.