Art in Downtown Austin – Different Strokes for Different Folks

Art in Downtown Austin – Different Strokes for Different Folks

Different-Strokes-For-Different-Folks

We like to highlight good and interesting art on DAB.  I’ve recently written about the cool little Art-O-Matic found at a couple of downtown locations, and the public art piece High Water Mark.

Back in 2012, Jude bought out the entirety of Austin Java when he learned about Mike Johnston aka “Truth”, and throughout 2013 we admired the work at The People’s Gallery showcase at Austin City Hall.

Last month, the REATX office acquired a very special work that had been showcased next to the City Hall elevators for the past year.  It’s called Different Strokes for Different Folks, and is the concept of up-and-coming artist Hallie Rae Ward.

Artist Hallie Rae Ward with DAB Publisher Jude Galligan

Artist Hallie Rae Ward with Jude Galligan in the REATX Realty office

Different Strokes for Different Folks was one of two pieces Hallie had featured in the 2013 People’s Gallery.  Hallie will be showcasing more of her work at this year’s West Austin Studio Tour - so, please check it out!

Below, I ask Hallie a few questions about what inspires her work.  You can learn more about Hallie on her website or Facebook page.

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Girls Night Out in Downtown Austin – Eat at Chavez

Girls Night Out in Downtown Austin – Eat at Chavez

chavez-austin-restaurant-sign

I never thought I’d say this, but if you want to check out a really cool new restaurant, you should hit up The Radisson at Congress and Cesar Chavez.

No kidding.

The Radisson is now the home of the simply hip and delicious new restaurant, Chavez, owned by Parkside’s (and Backspace’s) own Shawn Cirkiel.

[Read more...]





Storage Wars: Top Three Options For Condo Dwellers

Storage Wars: Top Three Options For Condo Dwellers

usu2

I recently helped a couple downsize from a 3,000sf suburban home into a 1,000sf condo.  Getting this empty-nester couple to move would not have been possible without storage.  They purged a lot, but still ended up using all three of the options below.

Where space is scarce, storage is costly.  Prices for storage units have gone up in recent years.  A few times each year we see a storage unit come up for sale at the Shore Condos.  The last one was ~$7500.  Recently, I observed at 360 condos a storage unit trade for $15,000.  Storage units at the Austonian will trade for ~$20,000, on average.

Storage units in building
Cost: varies, $2,800 – 20,000 (rent $75 – 200+/month)

image-8Storage closets/units/lockers come in many shapes and sizes.  Most high-rise condos do not convey with a storage closet (some do, for example Bridges On The Park and Brazos Place). The ones that do don’t always have enough storage to meet demand.  Sometimes it’s just a fenced cage, other times it’s an actual closet with lockable door and electricity.

Unless a storage unit conveyed with the sale of the condo (a buyer can amortize the cost of the storage unit over the term of their mortgage) most transactions for building storage units are handled in cash.   The cash-only aftermarket can put storage units out of reach for some owners.  As you can see below there is a wide range of pricing.

Recent transactions:  (sizes are ballpark based on owner input)
*5 Fifty Five – 4′w x 7′d x 7′h = $2,800-4,000.
*Milago = $3,750

*The Shore – 4′w x 7′d x 8′h = $7,500
*360 Condos – 5′w x 7′d x 9′h = $15,000.

Public Storage
Cost: varies, ~$100+ per month

publicstorageMany downtown condo dwellers forget there is a Public Storage close by on W. 6th Street.  As of this post, these rentable storage lockers start at $122 per month, plus a $75 move in fee, for a 5′w x 10′d.

I try to avoid renting whenever possible – it’s a sunk cost, and you need to drive to get there.  However, when you’re downsizing and about to start moving, you just want an easy place to put stuff.  This is where Public Storage is really helpful.  Later you can transition into more permanent storage options once settled into your new digs.

USU “Urban Storage Unit”
Cost: fixed, $2000

USU

The USU is sturdy box that sits in front/above your parking space.  It maximizes space you are underutilizing.  Amber and I have two of these and they are perfect for golf clubs, ski/snowboard equipment, holiday stuff, tools, and generally bulky items we want convenient access to from our door.

We needed to persuade our HOA board to let us install the USU, but now more buildings and HOAs are approving them based on the convenience and value these bring to their residents.  You can see USUs in use at the Four Seasons, Spring Condos, W Hotel Residences, and the Shore Condos.

Hopefully, this will help those of you longing for some extra space. If you’ve seen more creative storage solutions, please make sure to share in the comments!

-Jude

[UPDATED:  Though we've not used SpareFoot, we wanted to give them shoutout.  SpareFoot is an online self-storage marketplace that allows storage seekers to search by price and area.  So, you can price shop storage facilities across Austin.  They are based in downtown Austin, too!]





Waller Park Place Submits Site Plan for 3 Towers

Waller Park Place Submits Site Plan for 3 Towers

wallerparkplacerendering1

At  ~1,400,000 square feet Waller Park Place, a three tower mixed-use plan is the largest private development ever proposed in downtown Austin (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong).  It’s the vision of the Sutton Company, who formally filed their site plan approval application with the City of Austin last week.

Back in September, Downtown Austin Blog first revealed the concept  for the 3 acre tract stretching from Cesar Chavez to Davis Street, hugging Waller Creek.  Then it was being called Waller Center and seemed really to be just a conceptual vision.

wallerparkplacesiteplan1

Birds eye view shows planned orientation of three towers along Waller Creek

Below is what we know (note these numbers have gone up since Waller Center was announced in September and could still change)

  • Tower A – Office, 25+ stories, on the corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez
  • Tower B – Apartments, 50+ stories, internal on the site
  • Tower C – Hotel/Condo, 40+ stories, at Red River & Davis
  • Target FAR is 10:1
  • The architect is the IBI Group
  • No phasing is contemplated – all three towers built simultaneously
  • The site is part of the Waller Creek TIF district

With Block 1 (tbd) anticipated, and Trinity Tower (tbd) being conceptualized, Waller Park Place would be the last opportunity in downtown Austin for waterfront development with protected lake views.

WallerParkPlaceCrudeMassing5

Our own crude drawings showing how the new towers could fit into the skyline

Above and below are a couple of crude massing-drawings I made for each tower to help view the relative dimensions and heights of the three towers, and to help us see how these buildings will fit into the skyline.

WallerParkPlaceCrudeMassing3

Looking south – our own crude drawings showing how the new towers could fit into the skyline





List of Google Fiber Proposed “Community Connection” Sites Released

List of Google Fiber Proposed “Community Connection” Sites Released

Google Fiber logo

In an update to the story below… Austin City Council elected to postpone adoption of the List of 100 Community Connection Sites until its Dec. 12th meeting saying they wanted to review and tweak the list some more with Google.  KUT has more on Council activity here.

Also floating around out there in the Fibersphere is this post from Google Fiber Chief, Mark Strama, that discusses how the construction process is being envisioned as it makes its way around the city starting sometime mid 2014.

ORIGINAL STORY – Here is a link to the PDFs of the LIST & Council RESOLUTION of Proposed Google Fiber Community Connection Sites coming before City Council tomorrow, November 21st.

And here are those sites neatly MAPPED courtesy of KUT.

After spending only about five minutes reviewing the list, some inexplicable glaring omissions would include:

  • University of Texas – the 40 acres and other facilities like the Pickle research campus, ATI, IC2, etc.
  • Austin Community College – all of their campuses and, in particular, the new Highland Center that will be a major central city magnet for the tech and creative industries over the next 5+ years.
  • Austin Studios – film and production facilities on East 51st St
  • Hospitals in our emerging health care services growth cluster
  • …and no doubt much more!

How is this possible? These are all mega bandwidth users and fit the criteria for inclusion in the Community Connectedness program of public service locations intended for free Fiber service.  St. Edward’s, Huston-Tillotson, Concordia are all on there – appropriately – but not UT or ACC.  Seriously?





Austin Bike Share Coming in December – 11 Downtown Area Hubs

Austin Bike Share Coming in December – 11 Downtown Area Hubs

Bike share map

It has been a long time coming, but the the first 11 bike share locations in Austin, opening next month, were announced last week.

As expected the bike locations are all located in and around downtown, with nothing north of 11th St.

B-Cycle, the bike provider, has launched an official website — austin.bcycle.com —  touting the official launch as Dec. 21. The website also has an interactive Google-hybrid map of the bike share locations.

I have no bone to pick with any of the install choices, but do lament that they will not have kiosks planned in the initial phase at parking-challenged Barton Springs Pool and the Rainey Street District. (*cough* Put one at the MACC. *cough*).

The website says that the entire 40 station system, which is still in the planning stage, will be completely online and available for bike check out by March 1, 2014.   In the near term, buildings with the closest access to the bike kiosks are the Spring CondosW Hotel Residences5 Fifty Five, and the Plaza Lofts.

[Read more...]





Art in Downtown Austin – The Art-o-mat®

Art in Downtown Austin – The Art-o-mat®

art-o-mat-downtown-austin-2

I see this quirky little machine every time I walk in Whole Foods HQ downtown to get a healthy helping of freshly made vegetable juice.  But I’m usually in too much of a hurry to pay much attention to it.  I kinda always knew what it was, just never *really* looked at it.  However, I had a few seconds the other day and I FINALLY took a closer look and was just as charmed as I always thought I would be!

It’s a vending machine for reasonably priced art ($5!)!  Yay!

art-o-mat-downtown-austin

According to their website:

The inspiration for Art-o-mat® came to artist Clark Whittington while observing a friend who had a Pavlovian reaction to the crinkle of cellophane. When the friend heard someone opening a snack, he had the uncontrollable urge to have one too.

In June 1997, Clark was set to have a solo art show at a local cafe, Penny Universitie in Winston-Salem, N.C. He used a recently-banned cigarette machine to create the first Art-o-mat®. It was installed along with 12 of his paintings. The machine sold Clark’s black & white photographs mounted on blocks for $1.00 each.

The show was scheduled to be dismantled in July 1997. However, owner Cynthia Giles loved the machine and asked that it stay permanently. At that point, it was clear that involvement of other artists was needed if the project was going to continue. Cynthia introduced Clark to a handful of other local artists and the group Artists in Cellophane (AIC) was formed.

art-o-mat-downtown-austin-1

These little machines are all over the nation, with four locations in Austin (they are currently in Whole Foods Global HQ on Lamar, Whole Foods @ Arbor Trails, Whole Foods in Bee Cave, and the Mercury store in the 2nd Street District – Whole Foods @ The Domain is in the works). I LOVE this concept because I think these little pieces of art make great gifts, and are a way better way to spend $5 than on a coke and a couple of candy bars or useless pieces of junk that you may get from other vending machines.

I was so intrigued that I just had to find out more.  So, I got in touch with the owner of the concept, Clark Whittington.  First off, he had only positive things to say about Austin, which is not surprising in the least.  He says that Mercury was the first venue in Austin and they’ve been there about 6 years or so – he says that Mercury has been great to work with.  Whole Foods then contacted him and has since taken the concept under their wing, which he says has taken the concept to a whole new level.

He also told me that, even though the machines are throughout the US, there are several Austin-based artists who have work in the Art-o-mats. Here’s the list of current Austin-based artists:

Deborah Abbott
Marilyn Kirk
Jon Lawrence
Donna Toutin
Gabrielle Toutin

art-o-mat-downtown-austin-2

Clark says that the real mission of the project is to promote artists. They have about 120 machines and about 300 or so participating artists. He describes the concept as the balance of art versus commerce.

I asked him how the concept has grown over the years. How it had started from one machine in a coffee shop in Winston-Salem to 120 machines across the nation. Here’s what he said:

I don’t really contact people because when I do I get treated like I’m selling vinyl siding, so I wait until I hear from people and then go from there. We’re an art project – it’s not the best business model.  It’s really weird how art centers and museums – if I pitch someone – they just start crunching numbers.  Lots of times, businesses like Whole Foods and Mercury understand that there’s more too it than every little nickel and dime.  Art-o-mat is not pretentious – we are reaching out to everyone, everyone is invited to participate.

I just want to share this with the world – with people that do get it.  The last thing I’d want to do is expand in a way that doesn’t mesh with what we’re doing.  We have to be calculated and relaxed with how we do things.  Artists and hosts have to find us on their own.

Logistically, every machine is owned by the studio – not only to control the quality of inventory – but because, at the end of the day, this represents Clark’s livelihood. There are a few collectors that own their machine, but most are on a lease. Then the host buys art from Art-o-mat on invoice, as needed. Clark works with artists to curate and distribute the art for the machines.

Clark says they are in need of artists, especially Texas artists.  If you, or someone you know, has an interest in either hosting a machine or providing art for the machine – you can visit Art-o-mat’s contact page on their website. He seems to be pretty responsive.  Want to see some amazing samples of the type of art work in the machines? Visit their Flickr page.





The Most Insane Private Railcar You’ve Ever Seen Visits Downtown Austin

The Most Insane Private Railcar You’ve Ever Seen Visits Downtown Austin

We've got to do something about that graffiti.

Jude and I ride the Amtrak Texas Eagle from Austin to Little Rock at least once a year to visit my family.

We get a private cabin and find train travel to be a great alternative to the hassle of air travel – the slower pace IS the luxury.  We bring several books and just enjoy a relaxing day of reading and appreciating the scenery.

But, DAAAAAAMMMMNNN! – Now that I’ve seen Patron Billionaire John Paul DeJoria’s private passenger railcar up close and personal, while enjoying sips of $600/bottle Patrón Burdeos and noshing on delicious tex-mex cuisine, every single other travel experience I’ve ever had pales in comparison.  Shout out to Michael Tashnick (local hero and owner of the best Austin sports bar) for extending the invite to us.

The railcar, originally built in the 1920s and owned by DeJoria since 1996, has been lodged at the Amtrak station just to the west of downtown Austin since last week (if you live at The Spring Condos in downtown Austin and face west – you may have seen it through your window), and last night Patrón held a special, intimate gathering to promote their fine, fine liquor and show off The Patrón Tequila Express.  I ate to my heart’s content, took a ton of pictures (including one with the billionaire himself – I die!), and reveled in all the cool stuff (special things happening all the time, that don’t make it to the mainstream) that happens in Downtown Austin!

I think the pictures speak for themselves! (Many thinks to friend and Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association President Mitchell McGovern for sharing some of his pics, too!).  Just FYI, this was pretty much Jude and I’s reaction faces the whole time we were in the train:

cat-awe

Gallery after the jump…. [Read more...]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 7/31/14 5:59 AM 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.

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