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Old 08-19-2010, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Austin
2,522 posts, read 5,145,837 times
Reputation: 697

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I posted this on an Austin real estate blog, and invite anyone interested to comment on the same. The Real Estate blogger mentioned he is selling his large house on Austin's outskirts, and has downsized to a small ranch in the central city, per empty nest reasons, amongst sev others....he lived on those outskirts for quite a spell, and is really enjoying access to central city amenities and city bus services to the same.....

Here is my post...

I think, Steve, you and Sylvia are part of a larger trend...I've not been on your blog for a long spell, but was a frequent poster against Austin sprawl, and the ways we could amelieorate the same....I thought, and still do, that that sprawl was destroying the "golden goose" that attracted so many folks to Austin in the first place. The Centrifical force pushing growth out reminded me of that amusement ride, the cyclone...was actually named the Texas round-up, ironically, at our local carnivals growing up....just a push push push in all directions outward.
The open question was, would Austin ever develop a dymanic urban residential core, with the requisite city services and business services that would attract a critical mass of residents? Seems like this may happen now, per a confluence of several things...First, the era of the cookie-cutter suburban mega-house is spent...the boomer families that created that phenom have very much begun the "empty nest" syndrome, and no longer need or are willing to spend time maintaining such space, let alone the huge expenses they entail.

There are far fewer families just behind that boom to purchase those houses, and many of them are hurting economically, so surely there will be a surfeit of supply per megamanses for years to come. ..commercial real estate has also hit rock bottom, and the crazy funding for outlying strip-malls and big box stores that seemed to pop out of nowhere overnight is largely gone....as it stands, there is a huge overhang just to lease what has been built already in sprawlville..

This all leads to the revitalization of central urban areas, in Austin, and all over the USA. It will not supercede suburban and outlying life, but will take FAR more share of the same than it once had....many young people today, as you have mentioned, Steve, will be renters by choice/necessity in the next decade. They will also be far more inclined to live in-city, per those same preferences. Healthy boomers will be making the same transitions you are, in many cases, and moving to decent central areas....
I am absolutely certain that Austin's city center will be the most vibrant and growth-orientated section of the entire metro in the next decade, and I greatly look forward to seeing it grow, adding whatever input I can to the same!
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Old 08-19-2010, 10:52 AM
 
2,237 posts, read 7,864,180 times
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Austin is prime for it because of the planned effort to make downtown vibrant and livable. Cities that have allowed the majority of the "quality" development to occur on the fringes (San Antonio, I'm looking at you) aren't in the position for it to happen anytime soon except in isolated pockets.

We're planning on downsizing and moving into the city before our daughter starts kindergarten in two years. I am so looking forward to getting rid of a large house and acre yard. I'd much rather spend my time being active outside of the home with everything nearby than spending hours and money maintaining something for the sake of maintaining it and traveling in the car to get places.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:06 AM
 
Location: Austin
2,522 posts, read 5,145,837 times
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Ach, very correct that Austin has/is "priming" the pump for it....prime the pump enough on that lawn mower, and sooner or later, that gas compression will hit critical mass, crack, and start.....same with central cities...takes years of planning, creativity, and effort..sometimes, it seems like all is for naught, just when it finally decides to "kick in"....I think that critical mass has just arrived, and is very much here....the baby boomers downsizing, 20 and 30 somthings tapped out of the mortgage market or unwilling to buy, looking for rentals smack in the "happening" part of the metro, and those simply looking to purchase something more managable and close in, ala TH's and condos, will force this to happen. UT's nearby access, with the possibilites of adult lifelong learning classes and such, along with the amenities of UT and its adjuncts, certainly sweeten the pie...only thing missing is sorely needed retail that is neighborhood orientated, more mass transit, FAR more bike access, and REASONABLE bike access, with tie-ins to the town lake trail and such, and a decent live theater/restaurant zone in DT Austin....and those venues/amemities are all on the cusp....
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Old 08-20-2010, 06:46 AM
 
2,237 posts, read 7,864,180 times
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On a related note...

Death of the 'McMansion': Era of Huge Homes Is Over - Yahoo! Finance (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Death-of-the-McMansion-Era-of-cnbc-1051033821.html?x=0 - broken link)
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Austin
1,747 posts, read 3,075,500 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by achtungpv View Post
On a related note...

Death of the 'McMansion': Era of Huge Homes Is Over - Yahoo! Finance (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Death-of-the-McMansion-Era-of-cnbc-1051033821.html?x=0 - broken link)
I saw that. What a relief if it's true. I would love it if those monstrosities would vanish as a threat to central neighborhoods. btw, inthecut, can't blame the sprawl all on the boomers. Many of us have never left the city.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:29 PM
 
980 posts, read 2,570,341 times
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I'd say Central Austin is too expensive for most people, so yes, it is enjoying a renaissance, but the suburbs are by no means dying.

The other problem with this theory is that while the city has done a lot to encourage residential development in central/downtown Austin, they haven't done a very good job to encourage "jobs" to move to the central core, so you've got a lot of young people moving downtown who will actually be working in North Austin and elsewhere.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Austin 78722
72 posts, read 170,062 times
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I'd love to see 3 or 4 stories of affordable housing atop all those state parking garages on Trinity and San Jac. Tear down a few to make new parks for the new residents while they're at it. I'm all for more infill too, with garage apartments, granny flats and other strategies to provide more affordable housing in the center city.

This reminds me of the plan that Terry Keel at the Texas Facilities Commission put forward for redeveloping the Capitol Complex (A Capitol Idea? The Capitol Complex Meets the Downtown Austin Plan. Austin News - AustinChronicle.com) I agree that job growth and concentration, both governmental and private sector, will be important if there's to be a true core area renaissance as opposed to a gradual gentrification/condo-ization.

It's tough for Americans who are used to big yards and big houses to envision happy life in denser central cities. I feel some of that regarding the diminished privacy, peace and quiet that comes from living in a denser location.

It's great that most of us still have at least some choice about where we live--it's the trade-offs that come along with the choices that often aren't so great.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,720 posts, read 24,632,366 times
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Central Austin living, or dense urban living, will never appeal to a certain segment of the population. Too much noise, too little space, too little privacy, too much concrete.

For Austin specifically, a huge percentage of the population wouldn't consider it even if they can afford it because IN GENERAL, the best public schools are elsewhere.

AISD high shools in particular are a challenge for many families to accept.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Austin
2,522 posts, read 5,145,837 times
Reputation: 697
Quote:
Originally Posted by capcat View Post
I saw that. What a relief if it's true. I would love it if those monstrosities would vanish as a threat to central neighborhoods. btw, inthecut, can't blame the sprawl all on the boomers. Many of us have never left the city.
True...just a generational thing is all.....the boomers were the last generation to raise families in the cycle, and now they are approaching downsizing status...and most of them DID live in the burbs, as most people period live in suburban areas in the USA....I do think boomers are more inclined than prior generations to live in city however, and that the maon reason most did not was the school districts, most of which are quite challenging in inner-city areas....private schools are/were a great option for those that did make that move....also, safety is an issue for families as well....hard to feel comfortable letting kids ride bikes outside when you lie off say 1500 S Congress....just pragmatic issues..however, with the downsizing of households, and the convenience of rapid transit, you will see quite a few boomers retire in place in their central cities, rather than to the stereotypical florida and such..
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Austin
1,747 posts, read 3,075,500 times
Reputation: 746
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoffdano View Post
Central Austin living, or dense urban living, will never appeal to a certain segment of the population. Too much noise, too little space, too little privacy, too much concrete.

For Austin specifically, a huge percentage of the population wouldn't consider it even if they can afford it because IN GENERAL, the best public schools are elsewhere.

AISD high shools in particular are a challenge for many families to accept.
And yet, so many of us have had positive experiences with AISD high schools. I'm glad my kids went to them. Will be sorry when I'm no longer a part of it as a parent.
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