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Homes for lease in five neighborhoods. Which one would you choose?

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a column that explores what one can rent or buy for a set dollar amount in various Austin neighborhoods. Today’s price: $1,900 (or thereabouts) per month. Vote for your favorite below.

Via Moreland Properrties

800 Embassy Drive 506 Vi

If cozy is your thing, this 575-square-foot apartment in the Guadalupe neighborhood of Central East Austin offers the luxury-condo version for $1,900 per month. The studio (and it is a studio) is in the new Tyndall building, which means it’s right on IH-35 but also close to downtown. Plus, there’s a neat pool deck on top.

Via Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty 4205 Leralynn Street

Those who want their cozy more old-fashioned and homey will find this three-bedroom, two-bathroom house renting for $2,000 per month in Hyde Park. It’s fairly roomy at 1,232 square feet and has the old-cozy features many crave, including wood floors; original window frames, trim, and baseboards; and exposed shiplap.

A one-story duplex in Travis Heights renting for $2,000 a month looks like pretty generic, which is fine because it has a sweet courtyard and a colorful porch and, duh, Travis Heights. It’s also a good size (2,266 square feet), with two bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms. It’s near Big Stacy park and has two parking spaces.

Via Padmapper

1204 Taylor Street

That are still single-family homes—or at least single-family home—for rent in East Cesar Chavez comes a surprise. This freestanding house has one bedroom and one bathroom in 825 square feet for $1,875 per month and has wood floors, a covered porch, some nifty built-ins, and large front and back yards.

Via Zillow

1208 Enfield Road

For $1,850 per month, you can live in an apartment building with a name (The Miriam) and an apartment that’s been updated by a name interior designer (Joel Mozersky). It’s a 705-square-foot condo, technically speaking, located on Enfield Road in Old West Austin. It has one bedroom and one bathroom and lots of vintage charm.

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Littlefield home | @temple_plaza

New ways of seeing the school’s rich artistic and architectural legacy

The University of Texas at Austin has a famously beautiful campus, so to pick 12 of the university’s most beautiful buildings is merely to sample what is really a deep pool of world-class architecture, one that reflects the contemporary design trends and the needs of the university since it was founded in 1883.

(Note: If you love architectural details the way I love architectural details, check out @temple_plaza for photos galore.)

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1309 Hackberry Street | Via Compass

Two-story modern home by HGTV Smart Home builder in Robertson Hill

The particularly rapid upward trajectory of home costs in Central East Austin—including the small Robertson Hill neighborhood that lies between East 11th/Rosewood and East 12th Streets a few blocks east of IH-35. The asking price of this contemporary new build ($995,000) skirts the upper limits for the neighborhood, but it would probably be considered a steal in, say, South Austin.

Speaking of which: The two-story, single-family home also has a sort of star quality by association, as it was built by Riverside Homes, the company that also built the HGTV Smart Home—a detached condo in Zilker that was awarded to the winner of a sweepstakes contest in 2016 and back on the market for $1.19M in 2018.

This one has a similar style and touts a number of energy-efficiency (or “eco-conscious details,” as the listing puts it) features, including Nest thermostats and drought-tolerant landscaping (presumably the sod grass and newly planted trees on its relatively small lot: 4,181 square feet, including the 2,300-square-foot home on top). The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home has stylishly executed stucco and steel exterior, with two living areas, walnut floors, colorful tile, and Viking appliances among the interior highlights. Back outside, there’s a one-car carport, a covered patio, and fenced front and back yards. The property is listed by Compass.

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Rendering of planned apartments at old Jovita’s location on South First Street | Courtesy of Bercy Chen Studios

Four-story building with ground-floor retail

The South First Street property that was home to the wildly popular (and now infamous) restaurant and bar Jovita’s will be developed for a four-story, multifamily building, the Austin Business Journal reported Thursday.

The new building at 1613 and 1615 South First Street will have 41 to 44 apartment units and 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Austin-based Chameleon Companies is developing the property, and local firm Bercy Chen Studio—known for its distinctive buildings, which often involve the use of weathering steel—is the designer.

Jovita’s, which opened in 1992, was a Tex-Mex and live-music mainstay on South First Street that first became well-known for hosting country music legend Don Walser’s weekly gigs. It closed in 2012 after federal law enforcement raided the establishment to bust a heroin ring, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Owner Amado “Mayo” Pardo died before his trial in 2013, leaving the property ownership in question.

Rodriguez-controlled Chingon International bought the old Jovita’s property in 2016. Chingon Digital, which has the same mailing address as Chingon International, is listed as the owner of the neighboring lot at 1613 S. First Street, ABJ reports; it acquired the property in 2014.

Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Spy Kids, Sin City, Machete), a San Antonio native and longtime Austinite, is known for his support for of local enterprise, especially music and filmmaking. According to the Journal, he helped Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon, located next to the new project, get off the ground.

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Swimmer at Barton Springs | Shutterstock

How to get out and stay cool, even when it’s sweltering

Regardless of what the calendar says, Austin can experience high temperatures any time of year. But the midsummer and early fall are when we usually enter those sustained periods of highs hovering around the triple-digit mark—and we appear to be entering one of those streaks this weekend.

While the sustained highs aren’t technically part of the heat wave hitting the much of the Midwest and eastern United States right now, they’re still brutal (especially combined with our routinely high humidity).

That’s no reason to stay hunkered down in your (hopefully) air-conditioned home, though. Luckily, the Austin area has a wealth of places to swim (and/or splash)—including a number of chilly, spring-fed watering holes—as well as air-conditioned places for daytime entertainment.

For the hottest days ahead, we’ve compiled a handful of places across the city where you might be able to find some relief from the heat and have a little fun. In addition to places to take a dip, we have city guides that feature air-conditioned fun spots galore.

Don’t forget about our city parks, pools, and splash pads. Indoor types will want to check out the one-of-a-kind programming at our many prized movie theaters—including special summer series, screenings, and events at the Paramount, Austin Film Society, and Alamo Drafthouse theaters (not to mention nighttime outdoor screenings at spots including the latter’s Jaws on the Water at Volente Beach and the roving free movies in the park series, to name a couple).

Finally, always: Drink plenty of water, use sun protection, and find a way to keep cool. Have fun and stay safe out there, people!

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Small Holly home has been charmingly updated

Listed as a “East Austin country casita,” this updated wood-frame house packs a lot of charm into its 600 square feet (which isn’t really that small, after all). Built in 1950 and extensively renovated in 2010, it’s one of the rare single-family homes in the Holly neighborhood that has retained the scale and vernacular of the Eastside pocket and surrounding areas.

The two-bedroom, one-bedroom home features its original hardwood floors as well as a nine-foot, shiplap ceilings in addition to a vintage stove and butcher block countertops in the kitchen and a clawfoot tub and bright, lovely new tile in the bathroom.

Outside is an arty steel fence that’s that allows privacy as well as interaction with the neighborhood, leafy front and back yards, a sweet screened porch and shaded patio area, fruit trees, and raised garden beds.

The listing is held by Celeste Quesada of Floyd Real Estate, and she’s hosting an open house there Sunday, 1pm-3pm.

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Townhouses for rent in Mueller | Getty Images/iStockphoto

But it’s still not the most expensive Texas city to rent in

Austin rents are some of the fastest-rising for big U.S. cities, according to a mid-year report from listings and research site RentCafe. While rates in Texas were remained flat in the short term, the report’s year-over-year comparisons show more dramatic increases for the state. Austin rents climbed to a average of $1,422 in the first part of 2019—a 3.9% increase over the same period last year, $20 since last month and $45 since June of last year.

Despite the steep rise, Austin rents are still not the highest in the state. That dubious honor goes to Midland, Texas, where rents currently average $1,591, according to the report. Its Permian Basin companion city, Odessa, ranked third-highest (everybody say “oil boom”), with rents costing $1,396 on average rents. Average rent in both of the latter cities, however, have declined, with Midland seeing a $22 decrease year over year and Odessa dropping almost half that amount ($12) in the past month.

Rents in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Houston, and San Antonio are up since last year but have been rising at a lower rate, with Houston—reaching an average of $1,105 per month in June—being the slowest.

Average rents in nine of the nation’s other large cities ranged significantly higher in some cases, with Manhattan topping the list at $4,190 per month.

RentCafe’s data represents all apartment sizes and comes by way of California-based analysts Yardi Matrix. It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a difference between the city’s actual median rent (as seen in the U.S. Census) and its market median rent (as seen on sites like RentCafe).

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Illustration by Janna Morton

House cost has risen more than 10 percent since January, board reports

The median cost of buying a single-family home in the city of Austin has risen 10.9 percent, to $420,000, in the past year, according to an Austin Board of Realtors report released Wednesday.

The median price of homes in the larger Austin-Round Rock metro area—which includes a number of growing cities and parts of five counties around Austin—was $334,702 and rose 3.2 percent during the same period.

ABoR’s report also found that sales within city limits declined 2.3 percent in June, with 985 homes sold, while sales in the metro area increased 0.5% year over year, to 3,349 sales.

The shift from buying in the central city can be attributed to a combination of a decrease in inventory in the city and the accompanying rise in asking prices, as well as to increased development in other parts of the metro area, according to the report.

“Austin’s limited housing inventory—which dropped below two months in June—and increasing home prices have resulted in fewer sales over time,” said ABoR’s president, Kevin P. Scanlan. “As Austin continues to be one of the most desired cities to live in the United States, the suburbs are benefiting from this demand.” Scanlan also said that the sustained decrease in sales “could be indicative of a larger trend.”

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1908 Airole Way | Courtesy of TVOA

You could double the size of this A.D. Stenger house on a giant lot. Or you could just live in it.

The homes that prominent Austin midcentury designer and builder A.D. Stenger developed in abundance the 1950s—especially in Barton, West Lake, and Northwest Hills, where there are still swaths of them—have come to command a certain price. Understandable, in that they’re well- and locally made, imaginatively yet stylishly designed, and usually sited on leafy, hill lots perfect for showcasing their distinctive styles.

All that considered, the $1.25 million asking price of this new Barton Hills listing listing by The Value of Architecture could still seem a tad high, even though that’s an expected price for many a newer, far less worthy build these days. That’s not to say that the 1,288 square-foot, one-story home won’t go fast, especially given that its sited at the top of a leafy cul-de-sac, nestled among other Stengers (some more remodeled than others). It also offers original details in great condition, including exposed beams, a stacked stone fireplace and interior stone walls, handmade tile, a spiral entrance staircase, and its large, clerestory, and floor level casement windows, to name a few.

Nevertheless, if the home’s three bedrooms, two bathrooms, unique elements, and pedigree are not enough, TVOA is including in its offer plans for a proposed new project thad would incorporate the existing structure into a brand-new, contemporary one, with three bedroom and four bathrooms in 4,134 square feet, folding doors that open to the outside, an open-plan design, a pool—the works.

Since the land is zoned for single-family or duplex homes, there are other possibilities, including a massive addition or a second structure. Or you could enjoy living in a piece of history on a leafy half-acre and leave it at that. If you have a couple millie, the choice is most certainly yours.

TVOA’s listings package comes with a design package for a buyer who wants more space and convenience while keeping the Stenger vibe intact.

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The Palm School | By Larry D. Moore, licensed under Creative Commons

Financier withdraws proposal for Palm School property amid city and county negotiations

Austin’s Fairmont Hotel opened just over a year ago, but its (literal) connection to the Austin Convention Center and proximity to the historic Palm School—all located in a southeast downtown area that has seen intensive recent development—means that it is almost necessarily involved as current plans for those spaces move forward.

Fairmont Austin developer and financier Douglas Manchester appears to have jumped the gun on that front, though, entering the fray earlier in the week with an announcement that he planned to issue a letter of intent to purchase land around the Palm School for potential commercial development, according to a Monday Community Impact story. The property in question is located next to the Fairmont and does not include Palm Park, which is owned by the city.

A day later, Manchester sent Travis County commissioners a letter reading that he will not, in fact, be making an offer to buy the land, which, along with the Palm School building, is owned by the county. His intent, he wrote, was to work with commissioners to “offer a meaningful solution to ensure the Palm School’s long-term viability, while simultaneously helping taxpayers realize the maximum financial benefit from the site’s surrounding land.”

Possible Palm School plans

Opened in 1892, the Palm School served a primarily Latino elementary-aged students for 84 years prior to its closure in 1976. County health services have occupied the building for the past several years but plan to move its offices there by late 2021.

Recent momentum to rebuild and expand the Austin Convention Center, which is across the street from both the hotel and the former school, focused public attention on the Palm School property. Austin City Council members have asked the county to consider selling the property to the city, not selling it all, or donating it as a public park. The Palm School building is a designated city of Austin historic landmark.

For its part, the county wants to get the most benefit out of its valuable real estate, which was recently appraised at $53 million, while making sure its cultural and physical history is maintained. The Commissioners Court last month approved restrictive covenants that would help protect and preserve the property’s legacy and public use. They require that the building be preserved in perpetuity be designated a state historic landmark. A buyer would need to restore the school within three years of purchase, and no new construction could occur until restoration is completed. In addition, 80% of the space on the property that can be occupied must be dedicated to cultural heritage or community use, and the main area must be open and available to the public.

An area on the southern part of the property that includes the probable footprint of the original school is marked for preservation, and a strip of land that connects the building to the Waller Creek trail would also be preserved. The remaining 40 percent of the property—presumably included in the land Manchester announced his non-intent to purchase—could be developed for other purposes.

City-county land swap proposed

In addition to approving restrictive covenants, the county has proposed a land swap with the city, Community Impact reported Monday. In a July 4 letter to the Austin City Council and manager, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt that the county swap ownership of Palm School for that of the former HealthSouth physical rehabilitation facility on Red River Street just south of University Medical Center Brackenridge; the Travis County Exposition Center; and a portion of unclaimed local hotel occupancy tax that is already available to the county.

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