Changing Austin

even the sign is new
even the sign is new

I hate that Austin is changing, but when I look at much of the change, I can’t deny that its better. This hiperstercrit blog sentiment and list of changes is one of my favorites.

My poster example of change, is the house opposite mine, a 74-year old Hispanic guy lived there alone, he was so financially broke he couldn’t afford to retire; his hands were twisted and ineffective but he still did plumbing work. His only real pleasure was playing scratch cards, I’d often bump into him over at the corner store. He died last year, my neighbor and I agreed to put a bid in for his home, clean it up and modernize it, and rent it out at an affordable price using the property itself as an investment, rather than the rent as income. It was an old school south Austin shotgun duplex.

His nephew was in charge of the estate wanted $450k for the house. We looked it over, inside was awful, he hadn’t done any real maintenance, decoration, or refurbishment and our contractor reckoned it would cost $150k to sort out the piller/beam, the floors, a/c, electrical etc. We offered $350k but it was refused. They sold for $420k to Sett Studios. The city applied for Historic, the neighbors all wrote in opposition to the Historic zoning, the city withdrew the application. It will likely be replaced some some variant of this, which is two doors down on the same block.

So is Austin changing, do I blame people like me moving in? Yes to a point. I’m part of the problem. On the other hand, would anyone have paid the $450k and refurbished, no! Can I blame the nephew for asking a high price, absolutely not. Could you really ask someone to live in the house as it was, not really, although I’m sure some do it’s really not what we should be aiming for in the USAs fastest growing city, absolutely and totally not. This isn’t change for change sake, it’s necessary regeneration.

The “Welcome to Austin” mural is a perfect analogy of change. Yes, it has changed, although most won’t have noticed. Back in early 2013, I asked Todd Sanders at Road House Relics if he had any plans to repair/refurbish the mural? I introduced Todd to the folks at the neighborhood association, and contacted a personal friend who is in a senior position at the AUSTIN CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU, and a few months later the wall was stripped, and perfectly repainted by a team from Creative Action. It’s new, it’s vibrant, the only way you can spot the change, the new mural says (C) 2013 top-left. Change is inevitable.

Author: Mark Cathcart

Formerly an Executive Director of Systems Engineering and a Senior Distinguished Engineer at Dell. Prior to that, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working for the Systems Group in NY and Austin. I'm currently "retired until further notice".

Leave a Reply